- Governor’s reasoning inconsistent with facts.
- Blaine project singled out – similar projects allowed to stand.
- People of Blaine deserve explanation.
OLYMPIA – A baffling veto of a freeway-exit project in Blaine is prompting Sen. Doug Ericksen to issue an unusual invitation – he is asking the governor to visit the border city and explain his decision to the people.
In a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, Ericksen, R-Ferndale, says Inslee could clear up much confusion regarding his decision to block the long-needed project at Exit 274. “We had the money to pay for the project,” Ericksen’s letter says. “Other than pure politics, none of your reasons for vetoing this project make any sense.”
Ericksen said, “Why this project was singled out for a veto is one of the mysteries of the year. If the governor had a good reason to veto this project, I am sure the citizens of Whatcom County would love to hear it.
“That’s why we are offering to secure a location in Blaine where the governor can look the people in the eye and explain his reasoning. I look forward to hosting the meeting.”
The transportation budget passed by the Legislature April 21 contained $12.1 million to improve the freeway exit, which currently provides limited access to the southern entrance to the city — there is no northbound on-ramp or southbound off-ramp. Improved freeway access is a key element in city plans for economic development. During debate on the Senate floor April 6, Ericksen won an amendment providing money for the project.
In his veto message Tuesday, Inslee said he chose to block funding for the project “because it does not appear in LEAP [Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program] Transportation Document 2017-1, nor is there any information about project scope.” The governor’s staff also has informed Ericksen’s office that it believes the $12 million project would throw the $8.5 billion transportation budget out of balance. However,
- At least three other projects not on the LEAP project list were not vetoed.
- The scope of the project should have been well known because it was authorized in the 2015 version of the Connecting Washington transportation package.
- The transportation budget authorized millions of dollars for new projects, and paid for cost overruns on existing projects.
- General transportation revenue collections are running ahead of estimates, and non-partisan legislative staff indicates that the budget will not be thrown out of balance.
- Even if the Blaine project is included, current projections indicate that there will be enough transportation money to pay for state road projects through 2033.
“If we have overlooked something, the governor deserves an opportunity to tell us about it,” Ericksen said. “Just as the people of Blaine deserve answers.”