[AUDIO] A proposal unveiled by House Democrats to massively increase the state’s gas tax and other fees to fund a 27-billion-dollar transportation package is drawing sharp criticism from legislative Republicans. Washington House Republicans’ John Sattgast reports.

SATTGAST: If passed, the proposal could cost consumers more than a dollar per gallon in taxes and fees paid at the pump. This includes a proposed 18-cents a gallon gas tax increase over the next two years, putting Washington as the state with the highest gas tax in America.

Representative Andrew Barkis, who serves as the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, says the first thing that came to mind when he heard about the proposal was all the people in Washington struggling to make ends meet.

BARKIS: “This seems to me to be the opposite of what we should be doing, because this type of taxing hits those who struggle the most. And now we have so many more people affected by COVID. How could we even be talking about hitting those who are just trying to get by, to pay the rent?”

SATTGAST: Barkis says the transportation budget should be reprioritized to address the backlog of preservation and maintenance projects, and shift tax revenue from vehicle sales to transportation. All that can be done, he says, without further hurting struggling Washington families.

John Sattgast, the state Capitol.