The state Senate today agreed with Sen. Steve O’Ban: Washington State Department of Transportation officials need to come clean when mistakes are made.
Before adopting a supplemental transportation budget today a majority of senators backed a change proposed by O’Ban; his reform would require DOT to disclose any design errors and explain to the Legislature what went wrong, who it believes was responsible and how the agency plans to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“We need fundamental reforms that bring transparency and accountability to WSDOT so that the public’s trust can be restored and citizens may be inclined to support new funding for needed projects,” said O’Ban, a Pierce County Republican who represents the 28th Legislative District. “Without showing we are serious about vital reforms, the public would never support a new gas tax. After all, it’s the taxpayers who foot the bill for our state’s transportation mismanagement.”
O’Ban proposed the same reform as stand-alone legislation earlier this year; it fell victim to the Democratic co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee’s refusal to allow public hearings on reform bills until the Senate passes a gas-tax increase. However, O’Ban notes that the same measure passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in 2013 and is supported by nearly everyone in the Legislature – plus transportation secretary Lynn Peterson.“That bipartisan bill was passed by the House twice a year ago, by a vote of 87-7 in the regular session and 82-3 in the special session,” O’Ban continued. “It’s baffling that we couldn’t even get it heard in committee in the Senate this year, but I’m grateful that a majority of my colleagues adopted this amendment to restore some accountability. Our first priority is to regain the public’s confidence and assure taxpayers that business will not continue as usual at WSDOT.”
The supplemental transportation budget will now be considered by the House of Representatives.