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Idaho officials call on Washington governor to stop tax on fuel shipped to Idaho, other western states

A transportation proposal in the Washington Legislature includes a 6-cent tax on exported fuel.

BOISE, Idaho — A proposal in the Washington State Legislature would raise billions for transportation projects in Washington without increasing the gas tax on drivers there, but one part of the legislation would likely increase prices at the pumps in Idaho and other western states that import fuel from Washington.

For that reason, Idaho Gov. Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden want to have a chat with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

In a letter to Inslee, the Idaho officials write, "recent proposals advanced by Washington legislators would increase the cost of fuel for the people of Idaho and throughout the West by 6-cents a gallon. The Washington Legislature is venturing into new, uncertain territory that would trigger price increases that disproportionately hurt the citizens of Idaho, your neighbors.

"During a time when inflation is soaring at historic levels, we ask you to step in and do what you can to stop these harmful proposals. If these proposals reach your desk, we ask you to veto them. Now is not the time for our states to turn on each other with excise tax proposals that dampen our economy and increase costs for everyone," the letter from Little and Wasden goes on to say.

Little and Wasden also said they welcome a meeting with Inslee at his earliest convenience so they can "have a frank discussion on the impacts of this dangerous legislation."

The full text of their letter is available here.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who, like Inslee, is a Democrat, has also spoken out against the proposed tax on fuel exported from Washington. In a Twitter post, Brown wrote that she spoke with Inslee Thursday and "made it very clear to him that Washington taking unilateral action to increase gas prices for Oregon families and businesses is unacceptable."

Idaho does not have any oil refineries located within the state; neither does Oregon. Washington has five refineries in the Puget Sound region. Fuel products refined in Washington are shipped to nearby states by rail, truck or pipeline.

Washington's transportation spending bill pencils in $16 billion over 16 years, with the exported fuel tax expected to account for $2 billion of the revenue. The bill has passed the Washington Senate, and is now in the House Transportation Committee.

Democratic Washington lawmakers backing the bill propose the tax on fuel shipped out of the state rather than any new taxes on fuel sold within their own state because such a gas-tax increase would require a 60-percent majority rather than a simple majority. 

The package that includes the exported fuel tax passed the Washington Senate by a 29-to-20 vote, which gave it a 59% majority. The top Republican in the state senate's transportation committee has complained that members of his party had very little input on the bill, KTVB's sister station KING5 reports. The type of taxes included in the bill could potentially pass without any Republican support.

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