Senator's bill tries again to extend some stadium taxes
Another attempt is being made in the state Senate to pass a bill extending some stadium-related taxes to fund arts and heritage programs, tourism promotion, workforce housing and community development.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Another attempt is being made to pass a bill extending some stadium-related taxes to fund arts and heritage programs, tourism promotion, work-force housing and community development.
Sen. Scott White, D-Seattle, introduced Senate Bill 5961 on Saturday after a similar bill he had sponsored failed by a single vote Thursday in the Senate.
Both bills proposed extending some taxes used to pay off Safeco Field.
Supporters have said the proposed taxes, collected in King County on car rentals, hotels and restaurants, would create thousands of new jobs by funding a convention-center expansion, arts groups and other amenities. Under the legislation, the car-rental and restaurant taxes would end in 2015.
Many local arts and cultural groups have said they would be endangered if money from the taxes isn't extended.
Critics argue that lawmakers should not erode public trust by extending the life of temporary taxes scheduled to expire this year once Safeco Field bonds are paid off. (The hotel tax was not set to expire, but distribution of the tax funds to arts and cultural programs is scheduled to stop at the end of 2012.)
"In 1995, the taxpayers were promised that in 20 years or when the bonds were paid off, whichever came first," the taxes would go away, said Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, who opposes the bill. "We gave our word. ... Going back on our word is what erodes the public's trust in government."
The Senate has "already turned down a similar bill," Schoesler added. "I don't think the Senate's attitudes have changed a lot."
White said Sunday he intends to add language that specifies the proposal must go before the public for a final up or down vote.
"In my mind, the only way this passes is if there is a vote of the people," he said. "I believe that there were some (legislators) who, upon reflection, may be more interested in supporting the bill if there is a vote."
Even a last-minute amendment specifying such a vote wasn't enough for the previous bill to pass. White said Sunday, "We would've liked to have more time to discuss that provision."
White said the new measure also differs from his previous bill by allocating a bit more to arts and culture, and a bit less to housing, and extends by three years money going to the Chinatown International District, Pioneer Square and South King County for tourism promotion.
As of Sunday afternoon, a hearing had not been scheduled for the bill.
Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information from The Seattle Times archives was used in this report.
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