Wenatchee Arena Bill Stalls In Senate

A $42 million bailout package to prevent default on arena debt in Washington is once again in a political quagmire in the state Senate after facing delays before passage through the state House.

Wenatchee’s Town Toyota Center has had financial troubles and state officials voted Dec. 5 to approve a loan to a public facilities agency to pay off short-term, interest only debt. The city defaulted on the debt Dec. 1.

Under the proposal, the money was to come from a state-managed tax fund and the loan wasn’t expected to impact the state budget.

However, before the House would approve the bill, lawmakers attached a last-minute amendment that requires voter approval before raising sales tax to help pay down the debt, according to the Wenatchee World.

The addition left a sour taste in the mouth of the legislation’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Armstrong, who voted no.

He told the paper the amendment “takes away the tools for the nine [local] municipalities to correct the problem and leaves in the onerous part of the bill that allows the state to come back in January 2013 and start withholding sales tax revenues to get paid back.”

While the measure eventually passed the House, it stalled in the Senate after the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee refused to allow a hearing on the matter, the World reported.

Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee is working to gain enough support from other Senators to vote on the bill outside of the committee, the paper said.