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

State high court upholds $1,000 fines on ‘faithless electors’

They signed pledges to back their party’s nominee, Clinton, in 2016, but then voted for Colin Powell.

Pow! Bam! Inslee delivers a one-two punch of executive power

Governor shifted $175M to culverts and vetoed a sentence he said threatened funding for transit.

Self-driving cars: Heaven or hell?

Depending on factors, traffic and environmental impacts could become better or worse.

King County’s $5 million derelict boat problem

When a boat sinks, it costs a lot to bring it up, with millions being spent since 2003 on removals.

Ashley Hiruko/illustration
Susan’s quest for ‘justice’ and the civil legal system dilemma

While citizens have the right to an attorney in criminal cases, they’re not afforded the same rights in civil litigation.

Upon further review, EPA wants to redo water quality rules

Feds say they’ll use what the state submitted in 2016 even though they’re no longer the state’s faves.

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn sent a letter to the FBI asking for them to help investigate Allan Thomas (pictured), who is under investigation for stealing more than $400,000 of public funds and skirting election laws in an Enumclaw drainage district. Screenshot from King 5 report
King County Council requests report on special districts in wake of fraud allegations

Small, local special districts will face more scrutiny following Enumclaw drainage district case.

The Marquee on Meeker Apartments, 2030 W. Meeker St. in Kent, will feature 492 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail. The first phase of 288 apartments is expected to be completed in early 2020. Developers are targeting people in their 20s and 30s to rent their high-end, urban-style apartments. Steve Hunter/staff photo
Housing study pokes holes in conventional wisdom

High construction and land costs will incentivize developers to build luxury units.

File photo
Eviction reform passed by state Legislature

Tenant protections included longer notices and more judicial discretion.

Most Read