The Senate is now debating whether to take out the $250,000 that Sens. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, put into the state operating budget to help support the Seattle Storm women’s professional basketball team.
The team was recently purchased by a group of local women and will be staying in town, not leaving for Oklahoma City as the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics will likely do soon.
The argument is over whether the state should buy tickets to give girls so they can go to Storm games. Actually, the tickets would go to anyone, but in the floor speeches, the senators talked about giving them to girls.
Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, sponsored the amendment to delete the funding. He said he doesn’t want the state setting a precedent by buying tickets for games.
Prentice noted that the state recently gave millions of dollars to a bunch of Triple-A professional baseball teams last year. I think it was about $5 million to help make repairs to ballparks, including Cheney Stadium for the Tacoma Rainiers, the Everett AquaSox the Yakima team and a couple others.
Sens. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, and Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, joined Murray in speaking in favor of amendment.
Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, backed up Prentice and Kohl-Welles.
The vote to remove the money was 24-23, but it failed. That’s because it takes a 60 percent majority vote by the full Senate to amend the budget.
That means the state will be buying tickets to Storm games, provided the House and Gov. Chris Gregoire go along with that provision in the Senate operating budget.
Here’s what the amendment would have done:
Deletes $250,000 for the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development to contract with the Seattle Storm basketball team to provide community outreach to low-income youth and school athletic programs.