Better than expected, City of Tacoma lobbyist Randy Lewis told the Tacoma City Council yesterday.
In an update to the council Tuesday on the state House budget released earlier this week, Lewis described the House spending plan as overall giving fair treatment to local city and county governments, given the dismal budget situation.
“We were all waiting for the shoe to drop, and it didn’t,” Lewis told the council. “Not very hard anyway.”
The House budget — which proposes in all about $4.4 billion in cuts, but also adds an estimated $300 million in new revenues via a plan to sell the state’s wholesale liquor business to private entities — trims some state revenue allotments to local government, Lewis said. But, he added, it hardly slashes them.
“This budget is very fair,” Lewis said. “I think our members in the House heard the message that cities and counties are their partners in providing service to people. We understand this problem that the state has got, but solving it by taking local government revenues – which has happened in many states around the country (facing budget shortfalls) — to the credit of the Washington legislature, they did not.”
Tacoma projects also fared well in state grant programs, Lewis said.
The big one — a $2 million request for a new community health care center on the Hilltop — received full funding in both the House and the Governor’s budget.
“So, it’s in good shape, I think, going forward,” Lewis said.
Other Tacoma projects funded in the House budget:
— $800,000 from the Building Community Fund for Allen Renaissance, Inc.’s Allen Place Performing Arts & Technology project.
— $10 million from the Public Works Trust Fund for Tacoma Water’s Green River treatment center project.
— $750,000 from the Washington Heritage Program for the Foss Waterway Seaport west wall rehabilitation.
— $203,000 from the Washington Heritage Program for Broadway Center for the Performing Arts for theater lighting and sound upgrades.
— And a $1.7 million match grant request to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program to help phase 1 construction of the city’s planned Prairie Line trail is listed as an alternate to receive funding.
The House budget also assumes that the Washington History Museum will be saved under a proposal led by Rep. Jeannie Darnielle , D-27, to merge various state history and cultural programs together under a new Department of Heritage Arts and Culture, that would receive two-year start-up funding from an existing heritage program fund fed by document recording fees statewide. A similar proposal in the Senate suggests the history museum will be saved, Lewis added.
“There’s reason to believe the House and the Senate are on the same page – they may not be on the same paragraph – but they’re on the same page,” he said.
Lewis cautioned council members that while the House budget is a good sign, “it is good for one week.”
“The Senate budget comes out next week, which may have an entirely different take,” he said. “And then it goes behind closed doors and we won’t see it til sometime in the future.”
He also noted that the House plan is largely predicated on the liquor privatization proposal.
“If that doesn’t work out, that $300 million will have to come from somewhere else.”