When the Washington State Legislature convenes Jan. 12 to iron out the 2009-2011 budget proposal expected to be released by Gov. Chris Gregoire this week, many municipalities will be working with their state representatives with one goal in mind — make sure their individual budget requests and priorities aren’t dismissed at a time when $260 million is expected to be cut from the state budget in order to bridge a deficit estimated at $6 billion.
Tacoma will be one municipality trying to stake its claim. But what priorities will the city support and push for? Tacoma Government Relations Specialist Randy Lewis outlined those priorities during City Council’s study session Dec. 9. They include:
— legislation that addresses implementation with appropriate funding of initiatives intended to address the impacts of climate change;
— efforts of the Puget Sound Partnership and funding for local government planning and regulatory work associated with the plan;
— programs that reduce particulate pollution that has caused areas of Tacoma to be in a non-attainment status under the Clean Air act;
— adoption of tax increment financing to replace the Local Infrastructure Financing Tool (LIFT) and Job Development Fund (JDF);
— modification to the one-percent limit on property taxes in order to support emergency medical services;
— changes to the local tax authority which remove limitations on the uses of such revenue;
II. HEALTH AND HOUSING
— tax increment financing to support affordable and workforce housing alternatives;
— full state funding of local health jurisdictions;
— action to provide access to high quality health care;
III. TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
— funding partnership to rehabilitate the Murray Morgan Bridge in 2009;
— appropriation of $4.5 million for Cheney Stadium;
— restoration of revenue to the Public Works Trust Fund;
— new Real Estate Excise Tax authority for infrastructure purposes;
— adoption of fee-based street utility legislation;
— support of capital budget requests made by Martin Luther Kind Housing Development Authority for the Hilltop Renaissance Phase 2 project, the Foss Waterway Development Authority 16th Street Pier and Waterway Park, the Foss Waterway Seaport Balfour Building project, and the Metropolitan Park District Linnick Memorial Project.
Similarly, on the Federal level the city will push for policy to support Community Development Block Grants, law enforcement funding, housing, telecommunications, Energy & Environmental Block Grant, renewal community, and access to health care.
The Legislature is expected to pass a final biennium budget in April or May of 2009, and the governor will sign the budget in June.