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Effort being made to repeal gas tax

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Samuel Garcia of Sunnyside pumps gas into his pickup Friday afternoon at a local gas station. Gas prices could be on the rise soon, thanks to a legislator-approved gas tax. However, signatures are currently being collected in an effort to repeal the tax, through Initiative 912.

People across the state are banning together, working to ensure that a 9.5¢ per gallon gas tax approved by the Washington legislature does not go into effect the first of July.

Sandra Swanson, chairman of the STOP! Committee, explained that in 2002 voters defeated Referendum 51, which would have implemented a 13¢ per gallon gas tax. The Yakima woman noted that once the referendum was defeated the legislators were told the only way a gas tax would ever be approved by voters was if a performance audit was performed on the state's transportation department.

"That never happened," Swanson said.

She said instead, legislators voted to implement a 9.5¢ gas tax this past spring. According to Swanson, the gas tax was passed in such a way that the only way to repeal it is through a voter approved initiative.

And that is exactly what Swanson and others across the state are working to do. Swanson said people are working to collect signatures to get Initiative 912, which would repeal the gas tax approved by legislators, on the ballot. She said they have until July 8 to collect the 225,000 signatures needed to get the initiative on the ballot.

Swanson said the legislator-approved gas tax is set to be phased in over the course of the next four years, with the first 3¢ increase set to be implemented July 1, 2005. She said there is a movement being made to stop the implementation of the first gas tax increase until after it is determined whether or not enough signatures have been collected to get Initiative 912 on the ballot.

Swanson said one of the issues she has with the legislator-approved gas tax is that the money raised through the new tax won't be enough to pay for any of the major projects the state's transportation department is working on. She added that many of the funds will also likely go to help pay for the reconstruction of Seattle's Alaskan Way viaduct.

"That's a Seattle project," Swanson said.

Overall, Swanson said people seem to be fairly upset about the legislator-approved gas tax. She added that those who want to sign a petition to help get Initiative 912 on the ballot can visit www.nonewgastax.com. Petitions have also been posted at local businesses throughout the Lower Valley, including Sunnyside.

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