House passes Brown bill to support local infrastructure and jobs

Today the House of Representatives passed a measure sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown that is aimed at stimulating private development and creating jobs by assisting local governments with public-infrastructure investments.

Approved with a broad bipartisan vote of 94-3, Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5109 would direct the Department of Commerce to select which projects are awarded state contributions to finance Local Revitalization Financing (LRF) program projects.

Under the bill, the criteria for awarding a state contribution for these projects would be based on:

  • the availability of a state contribution;
  • the availability of a local match;
  • the number of jobs created by the project;
  • the fit of the expected business creation or expansion within the region’s preferred economic-growth strategy;
  • the speed with which project construction may begin;
  • the extent to which the project leverages non-state funding; and
  • the geographic location of the project with at least 50 percent of the additional funding awarded to projects east of the Cascade mountains.

“This bill is about reallocating funds that are not currently being utilized,” explained Brown, R-Kennewick. “The 2009 LRF program has worked very well, and has been particularly beneficial for my district. It’s a great program that pays for itself over time. These projects have generated millions of dollars in new sales and use taxes.”

“But 2009 was not the best economic time to take on new projects for many communities. This bill gives these communities more time to use this important economic-development tool.”

Brown noted that Kennewick Mayor Steve Young and Mayor Pro Tem Don Britain were instrumental in the passage of the measure.

Under the bill, as amended in the House, local governments that were approved for a project award prior to 2011 but have not utilized those funds, are given until July 1, 2016, to indicate a desire to do so by July 1, 2022. Funds that become available under these circumstances may be reallocated to other applicants.

The bill now returns to the Senate for its consideration of the changes made by the House.