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    Wash. Gas Tax Approved

    Gov. Gary Locke signs bill to increase levy 5 cents per gallon.

    OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington's gas tax will jump a nickel a gallon in about six weeks, the first visible sign of a $4.2 billion transportation fix signed yesterday by Gov. Gary Locke.

    Locke said the package will ease traffic congestion, boost the economy and make the state more attractive to Boeing as it scouts locations for its new 7E7 assembly plant.

    It is the first gas-tax increase approved in Olympia since 1990 and follows overwhelming voter rejection of a $7.7 billion referendum last fall that would have bumped the tax by 9 cents a gallon, reports the Seattle Times.

    The state tax will be 28 cents a gallon after the increase July 1.

    The finance package also includes a 15-percent boost in trucking fees and a sales-tax surcharge of 0.3 percent on new and used vehicles. The latter will add $60 to the price of a $20,000 car.

    The 10-year package includes approximately $3.4 billion for highways, $605 million for public transportation and $100 million for four new auto ferries and work on existing vessels and terminals, the report said.

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