Bellevue—Washington Governor Jay Inlsee claims to care about the natural environment. But our state government dithered for more than a decade on properly maintaining basic infrastructure pertaining to culverts, large pipes under roadways that lead salmon and steelhead to spawning grounds.
Pacific salmon are keystone species and play an essential role in the health and function of ecosystems, according to NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The health of our salmon in the Pacific Northwest is an indication of the health of our rivers and ecosystems. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Gov. Inslee—despite his nonstop rhetoric on climate and the environment.
Meanwhile, a federal court order from 2013 mandates the state develop a plan for replacing culverts in and around Central Puget Sound, after a losing a lawsuit filed by a group of Native American tribes.
Now, after years of blatant disregard for proper environmental infrastructure by the state, taxpayers could be on the hook for the culvert-replacement programs which will run $7.8 billion—more than four times the original estimate of $1.88 billion, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
“This skyrocketing price tag isn’t just a slap in the face to fiscal responsibility. It’s a punch in the gut (another, really) to Washington’s working families — who will pay the price in higher fuel prices, grocery bills and taxes,” says WAGOP Chairman Jim Walsh.
And while Gov. Inslee and Olympia Democrats claim to be good stewards of the environment, their actions reveal otherwise.
By contrast, WAGOP Chairman Walsh offered solutions to Olympia’s failure and mismanagement on the culvert issue in an opinion piece for The Longview Daily News, recently.
“The money generated from the governor’s unpopular cap-and-trade program more than $2 billion in the last year alone, is not being allocated exclusively to transportation projects, as gas taxes are. Instead, this windfall is being spread across all three of the state’s primary budgets—operating, transportation, and capital,” writes Chairman Walsh.
While this would help cover the cost of overruns, “It will not solve the underlying problem: bureaucratic bungling and delay, which are a betrayal of public trust,” says Chairman Walsh.
“Washingtonians deserve better—better oversight, better fiscal responsibility, and better management of state projects. “Hardworking individuals and families already grappling with economic fallout should not bear the cost of these failures,” he emphasizes. “It’s past time for a commitment to managing dollars with the competence deserved.”