Photo by Atomic Taco/Wikimedia

Key Sound Transit Deal Back on Track With Budget Agreement

Federal funding for the Lynnwood Link Extension will extend through September, at least.

LYNNWOOD — A compromise deal to fund the federal government provides Sound Transit with millions of dollars it has been counting on to expand light rail service.

The agreement also maintains funding for Community Development Block Grants, Puget Sound protection and salmon recovery while increasing money to combat opioid abuse, conduct medical research and cleanup of contamination at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

In all, the 1,665-page bill lays out $1 trillion in spending to keep the federal government running through the end of the budget year Sept. 30.

It does so with similar levels of funding Congress and former president Barack Obama discussed last year, and without deep cuts in domestic programs sought by President Donald Trump or new spending he desired for such items as a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

The U.S. House is expected to vote on the package Wednesday with a vote in the Senate as early as Thursday. Congress must pass it before midnight Friday to prevent a government shutdown.

“Although this wasn’t the bill I would have written on my own, we showed that when Democrats and Republicans work together and reject President Trump’s demands, we can make progress and get things done for the workers, women, and middle class families we represent,” U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement. Murray is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and took part in the negotiations.

Sound Transit officials had been concerned previously promised federal aid might dry up or disappear after the president called for freezing expenditures.

The compromise budget deal includes $100 million for Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link Extension. It is the first installment of $1.174 billion of federal funding the regional transit authority is hoping to receive to help build light rail from Northgate to Lynnwood and begin service in 2023. The federal dollars are in addition to sales tax, car-tab fees and other revenues.

“We were very concerned about the funding being jeopardized. We’re very encouraged by the news,” said Kimberly Reason, a public information officer for Sound Transit.

Democratic members of Congress applauded negotiators for completing a compromise spending plan that did not reduce funding in major areas.

However, Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen pointed out that the Environmental Protection Agency’s $8 billion budget is about $81 million less than what had been enacted in 2016. But it does preserve $28 million for Puget Sound cleanup pushed for by the congressman.

“This spending package is a compromise, so while I am disappointed by cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency—an agency that is critical for Puget Sound restoration and protection—this is not the radical slash and burn approach advocated for by President Trump,” he said in a statement. Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene praised the $2 billion of added money for the National Institutes of Health in contrast to the paring of the agency funding sought by the president.

“While this bill is certainly a compromise, I am relieved to see some of the critical investments I have fought for included, such as increased funding for the National Institutes of Health and opioid abuse diversion programs,” DelBene said.

There’s also an estimated $600 million to combat opioid abuse in the budget, including funding to expand the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program that DelBene sought.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com Twitter: @dospueblos.

More in News & Comment

Mary Lynn Pannen, founder and CEO of Sound Options, has consulted thousands of Washington families on geriatric care for 30 years. Photo courtesy of Sound Options
Seattle Takes on Elder Abuse as Reported Cases Rise

Local agencies and geriatric care managers aim to increase public awareness about the epidemic.

The Ride2 transit app will offer on-demand rides to and from West Seattle starting on Dec. 17. Courtesy of King County Metro
Climate Action Coalition Urges City to Respond to Seattle Squeeze

MASS asks the city to prioritize reducing traffic and increasing pedestrian safety ahead of the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s closure.

State Supreme Court Strikes Down I-27; King County Will Pursue Safe Consumption Sites

The decision upholds a court ruling keeping the anti-consumption site initiative off the ballot.

Seattle’s Hockey Team And Stadium Are On Their Way

Key Arena renovations will be completed without the use of public funding

Andrea Bernard, Allycea Weil, and Phoenix Johnson (left to right) are Licton Springs K-8 parents who want their kids to stay in the Native-centered program. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Licton Springs K-8 Parents Dismayed by Potential School Move

The PTO says children have benefited from the Native-centered program, and that transferring the pupils would disrupt their progress.

Seattle Municipal Court’s warrant outreach event on Nov. 30, 2017. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Seattle Takes Steps to Quash Warrants

City Attorney attempts to address inequities in criminal justice system and enhance public safety.

The King County Courthouse. File photo
King County Council Acknowledges Report on Juvenile Solitary Confinement

Report also says youth of color face a disproportionate amount of disciplinary measures

Federal Way Megachurch Slapped With Another Sexual Exploitation Lawsuit

Lawsuit calls for removal of Casey and Wendy Treat, and CFO, from church leadership roles.

The Centralia Power Plant is a coal-burning plant owned by TransAlta which supplies 380 megawatts to Puget Sound Energy. It is located in Lewis County and slated to shut down by 2025. Aaron Kunkler/Staff Photo
National Report Outlines Climate Change’s Course For Northwest

More fires, floods and drought appear to be on their way for Washington state.

Mustafa Getahun and other Washington Federation of State Employees laundry workers picket University of Washington Medicine at Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery on May 17, 2018. Photo courtesy of the Washington Federation of State Employees
University of Washington Laundry Workers Feel Hung Out to Dry

The Rainier Valley facility’s imminent closure leaves over 100 people looking for new jobs.