OLYMPIA — The House passed a bill that would loan a troubled public facilities district $42 million to avoid default, but only after limiting the way cities and counties involved can raise taxes.
On a 56-33 bipartisan vote, the House passed HB 2145, which would help the Wenatchee Public Facilities District repay investors after it defaulted on short-term bonds on Dec. 1. The money would be paid back to the state over 10 years, starting in 2013, and the cities and counties involved could raise local sales taxes by as much as two-tenths of a percent to cover the loan payments to the state.
But a change just before the bill came to a vote did not sit well with Rep. Mike Armstrong, R-Wenatchee, one of the bill's original sponsors. The original bill said taxes could be raised by a vote of the local legislative body or the voters. The amendment allows a tax increase onlly if voters approve it.
“This takes us down the slope to total bond default,” Armstrong said, and voted no.
The bill's two other sponsors, however, Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, and Ross Hunter, D-Medina, voted yes.
Officials at the Spokane Public Facilities District say they are watching progress of the Wenatchee PFD bailout closely, because Spokane is scheduled to sell bonds on Dec. 13 in an effort to cut costs by refinancing at a lower interest rate.
The Spokane-area delegation's vote can be found inside the blog.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans are said to be divided over a bailout to the PFD.
Voting yes were Republican Reps. Joel Kretz and Shelly Short.
Voting no were Republicans John Ahern, Susan Fagan, Kevin Parker, Joe Schmick and Matt Shea, and Democrat Timm Ormsby.
Excused were Republican Larry Crouse and Democrat Andy Billig.
For a complete breakdown of the vote on HB 2145, click here.