April 7, 2022

2022 legislative session: Big gains for economic development

The recently concluded short session of the Washington State Legislature was quite impactful for economic development. Special thanks to the Washington Economic Development Association (WEDA) for working hard to ensure that Washington State remains competitive.

Kudos to Executive Director Suzanne Dale Estey, Director of Operations Carey Sheffield, and Director of Legislative Advocacy Jennifer Zeigler, who were critical players in helping WEDA members make a huge difference.

Here are some highlights from the session:

  • The supplemental budget increased state spending to around $64 billion over two years.
  • COVID-19 concerns were at the forefront. The session began virtual and ended semi-virtual.
  • Tax revenues boomed (surplus of $8 billion—which soared to $11 billion mid-session—through 2025), and there was $1 billion in unspent federal aid.
  • Democrats control the governor’s office, House and Senate.

Strengthening the economic development ecosystem

WEDA believes a robust economic development ecosystem at the state, regional and local levels is crucial for sustain economic recovery. Related legislative requests/results include:

  • Support and protect state-level leadership and funding for economic development, including full support for business recruitment, retention and expansion programs. Results: Maintenance level with some increases, particularly for the Small Business Resiliency Network ($15M) and small business technical assistance/alignment
  • Support and protect funding for regional capacity to coordinate and deliver economic development services. Results: Protected

Foster catalysts for job recovery and growth

WEDA supports investments in state infrastructure and programs that catalyze business recovery, retention, expansion and recruitment at the regional and local levels. Related legislative requests/results include:

  • Support small business and microenterprise recovery with enhanced technical assistance and initiatives to strengthen the statewide Small Business ecosystem:
      • Washington Small Business Development Center ($1 million) and Minority Business Development Agency ($400,000), based at the City of Tacoma. Results: Both funded, plus $3 million for microenterprise and $1.4 million for Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC).
      • Catalytic Opportunity Fund to ignite regional and local partnership to spur recovery, especially in underserved communities ($25 million, one-time). Results: Funded at $34.5 million.
  • Support strategies to help the tourism, hospitality and manufacturing sectors. Results: $100 million for hospitality and $20 million+ for the arts.
  • Spark shovel-ready manufacturing sites. Request for $7.5 million for Community Economic Revitalization Bond (CERB) to promote job growth in rural and urban counties. Results: CERB request not funded; $2.5 million funded for shovel-ready sites.
  • Invest in infrastructure through state public works programs, which support expanding businesses (CERB core funding, Public Works Board, TIB). Results: $40 million CERB funding.
  • Support broadband capacity initiatives and investment. Results: $25 million+ funded
  • Protect Economic Development Strategic Reserve Fund. Results: Protected.
  • Support increased investments in road and transit infrastructure, maintenance and services to move people and freight more efficiently. Results: $16.9 billion “Move Ahead Washington” package passed.

Revenue over 16 years:

    • $5.4 billion from the Climate Commitment Act
    • $3.6 billion from the Federal Infrastructure Act
    • $2 billion in one-time General Fund operating budget support
    • $57 million annually from the Public Works Trust Fund and $57 million annually from the general fund Operating Budget ($1.7 billion over 16 years)
    • $1.4 billion from increased license plate fees
    • $956 million in existing bonding authority
    • $403 million from the General Fund operating budget to reflect the sales tax on
    • construction of transportation projects
    • $80 million in funding the Transportation Budget previously transferred to the general fund operating budget

Major areas of spending over 16 years:

    • $1.5 billion for operating and capital investments in the ferry system
    • $2.7 billion for new projects, including the 1-5 Columbia River Bridge, the US 2 trestle and SR 18 widening
    • $2.4 billion for fish barrier removal
    • $3 billion in preservation and maintenance
    • $1.2 billion for active transportation projects and grant programs
    • $3 billion for transit projects and grant programs
    • $517 million for electrification
    • $150 million for ultra-high-speed rail

Key highlights of the transportation bill:

    • Funding to complete both I-405/State Route 167 ($380 million) and the Port of Tacoma Road interchange ($35 million); continue construction of HOV lanes between the Tacoma Mall and Joint Base Lewis-McChord ($244 million); and address funding gaps on the SR 167 /SR 509 Puget Sound Gateway ($434 million)
    • Funding from the SR 167 completion project will contribute to wildlife restoration and build more than 6 miles of biking and walking paths. The package also includes significant funding to support Pierce Transit services; finish constructing the Tacoma to Puyallup Regional Trail; and address flood prevention/salmon recovery for the upcoming Nisqually River bridge replacement.

Important to note: It is highly unusual that the transportation package was not bipartisan, which may result in challenges down the road.

For more details, read WEDA’s 2022 Final Legislative Report.


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