Finding money for Puget Sound restoration is likely to become
more difficult next year as legislative power shifts to Republicans
in the state Senate and the Legislature wrestles with funding for
The power shift follows the defection of two Democratic senators
to effectively create a Republican majority in the Senate. See
reporter Mike Baker’s story for the
The upcoming budget debate will no doubt revolve around new
funding for education. The State Supreme Court has ruled that the
Legislature must find more money to fund basic educational needs,
as required by the Washington State Constitution. Gov. Chris
Gregoire has been talking about proposing a new dedicated tax, but
now opponents of tax increases will have a stronger position.
Gov.-elect Jay Inslee ran on a no-new-taxes pledge, so it is
likely that all state programs will go back on the chopping block,
and nobody can predict what will come out of the turmoil.
Inslee told me a month ago that he could not predict whether
Puget Sound programs would get more or less money, but he
considered the state’s “paramount duty” to be education. Please
Kitsap Sun story on Nov. 15.
Meanwhile, Gov. Gregoire told
Seattle Times reporter Andrew Garber that her greatest
disappointment was not getting more done to restore Puget
“Because that’s forever. That’s a big forever issue for this
state. What I think happened… is we were on our way, and then we
just got taken to our knees by the recession. While I kept funding
it through other means, it didn’t get the focus I think it needs
and deserves because I was so consumed by the recession.”
The governor told me during an interview last month that she
still hopes the Legislature can find more money for Puget Sound —
including a stable funding source — once the state gets to a
stronger financial footing:
“We kept putting money in… I kept pushing for ongoing funding,
and we will have to continue to do that for awhile.
“When the recession hit, I have to say that everybody’s
attention got drawn away. People wondered, ‘Can I put food on the
table? Am I going to lose my job?’ It was so all-consuming that I
couldn’t focus on the sound.
“There was a lot of talk about a flush tax. We have never really
done the research on it. The last couple of years was no time to be
thinking about that. We have demands for education and
transportation. But at some point we will have to find the ability
to (pay for) more capital projects.
“I think we have held our own and made some improvement, but not
the improvement we should have. We have to kick it up. The
population continues to grow. We’re going to have to kick it up or
we are going to lose ground. I’m not proud of the fact that we are
kind of treading water right now.”
Gov. Gregoire also acknowledged to me that federal funding for
Puget Sound could become more difficult with the retirement of U.S.
Rep. Norm Dicks, who has been a powerful advocate for Puget Sound.
On the other hand, she has hope that Norm’s effort through the
years and the establishment of the Puget Sound Partnership with
provide ongoing credibility for the program. She also believes that
Norm’s replacement, Democrat Derek Kilmer, will be a strong
advocate for Puget Sound, along with the state’s two U.S.
Other comments from my interview with the governor were used in
the first story in what will be an ongoing series about the Puget
Sound Partnership’s ecosystem indicators. See
Kitsap Sun, Nov. 24.
Speaking of money for Puget Sound, the Salmon Recovery Funding
Board has approved $19.2 million statewide for salmon projects next
year. I focused my story in
yesterday’s Kitsap Sun on estuary projects in Hood Canal, but
full list of projects (PDF 279 kb) can be downloaded from the
website of the Recreation and Conservation Office.
It might be interesting to review the history of these grants,
year by year. The following are the annual allocations with links
to more details:
2013: $19.2 million. News
release, Dec. 10, 2012
2012: $30 million. News
release, Dec. 12, 2011
2011: $19.8 million. News
release, Dec. 20, 2010
2010: $42.8 million. News
release, Dec. 15, 2009
2009: $19.8 million.
News release, Dec. 12, 2008
2008: $60 million.
News release (PDF 360 kb), Dec. 19, 2007
2007: $16.6 million. News
release (PDF 262 kb), Dec. 8, 2006
2006: $26.6 million.
News release (PDF 262 kb), Jan. 11, 2006
2005: $26.7 million.
News release (PDF 188 kb), Dec. 9, 2004 (Gov. Gary Locke)
Share on Facebook