OFFICIAL BALLOT TITLE & EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
BALLOT TITLE AND EXPLANATORY STATEMENT WRITTEN BY THE
|OFFICIAL BALLOT TITLE|
Shall 90% of transportation funds,
including transit taxes, be spent for roads; transportation agency performance
audits required; and road construction and maintenance be sales tax-exempt?
The Law As It Presently Exists
Under existing law, transportation is the responsibility of both state and local governments. The state department of transportation constructs and operates a system of state highways. In addition, the department operates the state ferry system and provides support for rail transportation and some small airports in the state. Counties and cities construct and maintain their own systems of roads and streets. Counties and cities also have authority to operate ferry and public transit systems. Special purpose districts have been created to operate public transit and rail systems on a local or regional basis. Each of these governments operates with funds derived from taxes or from user fees (such as ferry and bus fares) in various proportions.
The state auditor presently conducts periodic audits of all state and local agencies to ensure their compliance with the constitution and laws of the state, with local ordinances, and with applicable accounting practices (RCW 43.09). These audits are not "performance audits" as that term is generally understood. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, a legislative committee, has legal authority to conduct performance audits of state agencies or of local governments receiving state funds (RCW 44.28).
Materials, labor, and services used in the construction or maintenance of state-owned roads, streets, highways, places, easements, rights of way, mass public transportation terminals and parking facilities, bridges, tunnels, and trestles are presently subjected to the retail sales tax (RCW 82.08) and use tax (RCW 82.12). In addition, materials (but not labor and services) used in the construction or maintenance of other publicly owned roads, streets, highways, places, easements, rights of way, mass public transportation terminals and parking facilities, bridges, tunnels, and trestles are presently subjected to retail sales tax and use tax. Contractors pay sales tax on materials and labor used in construction projects on facilities owned and operated by the federal government.
The Effect of the Proposed Measure Should It Be Approved Into Law
This measure would declare that new road and lane construction and road maintenance would be the state’s top priority for transportation system improvements. The measure would direct the legislature, in consultation with local governments, to adopt implementing legislation which would require a minimum of 90% of transportation funds to be spent on construction of new roads, new lanes on existing roads, improvements to the traffic carrying capacity of roads, or maintenance of roads. The term "transportation funds" would include state and local government funds spent for transportation purposes, including the transportation fund, the highway fund, public transit and ferry operating accounts and reserves, public transit and ferry capital accounts and reserves, local government transportation accounts, public transportation authorities, transportation benefit districts, and the amounts placed in the high occupancy vehicle account (RCW 81.100.070). It does not include federal funds specifically provided for non-roadway purposes, transportation vehicle funds used by school districts, funds used by airports or port districts, or the fares paid by customers of transit and ferry systems. The term "roads" would include all publicly owned roads, streets, and highways.
The measure would also require a performance audit on each transportation agency, account, and program, including the state department of transportation, the state ferry system, and all public transit agencies. The first audit report for each agency would be submitted by December 31, 2001, and subsequent performance audits would be conducted as determined necessary by the state auditor. Transportation funds would be used to pay for the performance audits.
The measure would exempt, from sales and use taxes, materials and labor used in the construction or maintenance of publicly owned roads, streets, and highways.
The measure would also require the updating of comprehensive plans developed under Chapter 36.70A RCW (the growth management act) and the six-year transportation plans required by RCW 44.40.070, to reflect the provisions and priorities of this measure.