Things are down to the wire in Olympia, as this is the last week of the regular session, but--let's dig into the bad sports analogy bag--the Husky Stadium/Key Arena/Safeco Field bill is making an unexpected fourth-quarter rally!
The economically-titled bill, "An act relating to excise taxes in a county with a population of one million five hundred thousand or more" just got out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee today (thanks, Husky Football Blog), and now must get through the Rules Committee before to get a floor vote. The Rules Committee ignored it today. The clock's winding down! It's crunch time!
What would this underdog do? In short, extend King County's ability to collect food/beverage, hotel/motel/(Holiday Inn), and rental car taxes, with the money going to things like sports stadiums, low-income housing, and "regional centers" and "performing arts centers" not located in Seattle or Bellevue.
As for how exactly the money would be spent, that'd be largely up to the King County Council (Dow Constantine showed up last week to speak on behalf of the bill)--with a few very specific guidelines and restrictions. Are you ready?
Beginning in 2013, money will be set aside for Safeco Field upkeep, if Safeco Field needs upkeep. (I wonder how that one's gonna work out.) If Seattle scores an NBA team by 2013, food/beverage and rental car taxes collected within Seattle must go to Key Arena upgrades. From the time the Kingdome bonds are paid off (expected to be in late 2014) until 2016, 50% of the hotel/motel tax must go to low-income housing around transit stations. Once 2016 hits, 37.5% of that tax will go to low-income housing, and 37.5% to arts and heritage programs. And, as mentioned before, any new regional centers or performing arts centers will have to be sited in cities with fewer than 100,000 residents, which means not Bellevue or Seattle.
Poor Husky Stadium was left off the designated-recipients list, meaning the UW will have to lobby the County Council after it lobbies the legislature if it wants one of Seattle's most valuable pieces of property to continue to be limited to six afternoons of minor-league sports a year while the University continues to struggle with funding shortfalls that would disappear with the endowment-super-sizing sale of said property.