Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, released this statement today regarding Gov. Jay Inslee’s veto of $81.9 million in funding for the Columbia River Crossing in the Legislature’s transportation budget:

"Many people in and around my district have been asking about the governor’s veto, and I can understand why there might be questions, when CRC opponents are actively mischaracterizing his actions.

“The governor has been crystal clear, including as recently as this past Monday during a transportation rally, that he wants full funding for the CRC this year so that we can qualify for $850 million in federal funds. If we pass up that $850 million, the governor feels it makes little sense to spend $81.9 million in a wasted effort, and he’s right.

“Sadly, the opponents’ misguided mantra that hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid will somehow be there for us in the future will cost Vancouver and Washington taxpayers dearly. This money goes away if we do not commit to our share by September. If that happens, we will either be unable to replace the unsafe, outmoded bridge with a modern structure or we will pay a much higher price to replace the bridge in future years.

“It’s frustrating to hear CRC opponents continually confuse the facts. They say the project cannot win Coast Guard approval, when the Coast Guard is in the process of evaluating the proposal. They say $850 million in federal funds that come with a September deadline will still be available after the deadline, even though federal officials have made it clear that is in fact not the case. They say businesses along the river cannot be mitigated when in fact mitigation is in the process of being negotiated for the three most crucial businesses. Most recently, they say the governor’s veto of a CRC budget item is a vote against the project when in fact the governor has emphatically called for the Legislature to fully fund Washington’s $450 million portion of the CRC and sees the current CRC proposal with light rail as the only viable option.

“To turn down $850 million in federal funding would be a costly mistake for our community and one I fear we would regret for many years to come. I am unwilling to make a mistake that expensive and detrimental to our community.”

“I am grateful for the Governor’s continued support for this project and his bold leadership to ensure the future economic health and viability of our community and state through strategic investment in our transportation infrastructure. I remain steadfast in my effort to arrange for our state to commit its share of funding for the CRC by September and qualify for the federal funds and I continue to work with my seatmates, Rep. Jim Moeller and Rep. Sharon Wylie, to make this a reality.”