The Special Session rewound the clock. Here are a couple bills I am watching.
The first bill is the the Hotel Tax (only) version of the Arts bill, SSB 5834.
The reality is that the hotel tax keeps going with or without this legislation. What this bill does do is allow 4Culture to bridge its operating budget by spending down part of its endowment until Qwest (yes, I still call it Qwest) Stadium is paid off in 2021, then 4Culture gets a slice of the revenue after that. King County controls the rest of the revenue, for tourism investments.
What I like about this bill is its brevity. This bill gives King County some discretion (within existing state law) to make tourism investments around King County. I'm not sure why legislators from around the state think they know the best uses for these taxes starting a DECADE from now, and feel compelled to prescribe how every penny is spent, forever.
If a bill does not pass, then the revenue keeps going and control shift to the cities first, then the county. The revenue would get splintered, and 4Culture would pretty much die.
The second bill is a King County stimulus bill, SB 5958 (another version of HB 1997, HB 2912, etc). It is the dressed up as the arts bill, the Convention Center bill, what it is at its most basic element is a stimulus bill.
This bill extends the Food and Beverage tax to 2015, and that money accelerates the start of the Washington State Convention Center's expansion. The bill also provides funding for workforce housing in and around transit centers (the convention center expands over the Metro Transit property).
I would rather have SB give up $100,000 to the state affordable housing fund, and $100,000 to the state arts and heritage fund, both drawn from the state tax credit on the car rental tax.
I would prefer that SB 5958 were simplified so that over the next decade King County had the flexibility to determine for itself what tourism related infrastructure investments to make, and not have their hands tied by some state representative from some other part of the state that really doesn't care what happens in King County.
SB 5958 has a hearing on May 17, 2011, Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Government Operations and Tribal Relations & Elections at 1:30 PM. (Subject to change)
Advocates4Culture will be there to testify.