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Governor signs Johnson's bill on infrastructure financing

 

April 11, 2018



Washington’s Local Infrastructure Financing Tool (LIFT) program has provided millions of dollars for Economic Development projects across the state since it was enacted by the Legislature in 2006. The program, however, has been plagued with a restriction that Rep. Norm Johnson says has made it difficult for local governments to count on uninterrupted financing.

Authored by Johnson, R-Yakima, House Bill 2858 was signed into law March 22 by Gov. Jay Inslee. Johnson says the measure should fix the problem.

“LIFT was designed as a state financing tool to boost jobs, encourage Economic Development and redevelopment in Washington communities that have struggled from economic hardship. Nine projects have been awarded state contributions under this program, including my hometown of Yakima,” said Johnson. “It’s been a great program, but restrictions have prevented cities from moving forward with the ability to use excess local revenues to calculate state dollar matching funds past the first year of the project. This legislation removes that barrier.”

Under the LIFT program, Johnson says certain local governments may be authorized to use property taxes from new construction, increased collections of sales taxes and up to $1 million in state sales tax revenue for public improvement projects designed to promote Economic Development and attract new business. Total state contribution is capped at $7.5 million. Together with local funds, the money is used for the payment of bonds issued for financing the projects.

Johnson says public improvements may be financed on a pay-as-you-go basis, and local revenues are used to calculate the state’s contribution.

“We have projects that are ongoing, such as the redevelopment of property that formerly housed a paper mill in Yakima. This legislation allows local excess revenues to be carried forward from year-to-year to calculate the state contribution. In doing so, cities who have up-front investments with ongoing projects may move forward with continued state matching funds,” added Johnson. “This will be helpful to all LIFT communities and their projects.”

In addition to Yakima, other local governments that have been awarded state contributions under the LIFT program include Bellingham, Bothell, Everett, Federal Way, Mount Vernon, Puyallup, Vancouver and Spokane County.

 

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