Attended the hearing in the Cherberg Building. The entire Senate Ways & Means committee was there chaired by Ms. Prentice. Also on the dais was Sen. Ed Murray from Seattle. Seemed like pretty level headed people.
I'd only been to one of these things in Olympia before but they run a pretty tight ship. They've got handouts when you first come in and then you can sign up to signify your support or opposition --- plus if you want to speak or not. I was pretty gun-shy so I just voted for it and chose not to speak.
The bill in question is Senate Bill 6116. It basically allows for many things but among them an extension of the Hotel/Restaurant Tax in King County and an extension on the Rental-Car tax. It would fund things like arts programs, heritage programs, tourism promotion, low-income housing, and financing of Public Stadiums. The Senators proposing the bill (I think Ed Murray is one) speak in support first.
When you sign up to speak you proceed to a table facing the committee, three at a time, and then talk in turn. First up were reps.from arts committees - they supported the bill. Also, the rep. from Federal Way voiced her support.
She voiced three answers for the "Why now, why this" questions:
- These are the times to fund programs contained in the bill to give citizens a positive image of state government.
- There will never be a better building bidding/contracting culture than there is now with the depressed economy and right now we have reduced prices of materials
Following were reps. from Seattle Center and the Mariners as well as another cultural advocate who spoke in support.
And then came a display I've never seen before. Three people got up. Two were Coug idiots, although they didn't immediately admit to being such.
Here we have a dignified public hearing and these folks were the biggest bunch of whiners/complainers/ and self-admitted Cougar supporters you'd ever want to see.
The first guy says he's from Bellevue and a "concerned taxpayer". Then he states why he opposes the bill:
- These taxes are set to expire. The state has to be credible with the public and let them expire.
- There are better uses for the funds -- studies show that University sports stadiums give no financial benefit to the communities they're in.
- There's been a serious lack of leadership/stewardship at UW. Why has the safety of the stadium been allowed to languish. If UW has the money to pay exorbitant salaries for Sark/Holt and others why can't they use some of that for upkeep?
- This bill is a cleverly disguised legislative mechanism to give UW a competitive advantage over its interstate rival. The guy then says "...in all of NCAA Div.1 football you would not find an instance of an instate rival allowing state funding of sports for its rival.
- UW can do what WSU is currently doing for buildings - thestudents have imposed a surcharge on themselves and they've gone to the donors for more.
During this diatribe Ed Murray interrupted and said something like "....so the only reason you're opposing this is the PAC-10 and WSU's competitiveness"? To which the guy replied that he was a concerned taxpayer and there were better uses for the money derived. Mr. Murray also said that the Performing center at WSU was built with state funds whereas BOA/Hec.Ed was renovated without them.
Nowhere did these yahoos acknowledge the tremendous job and revenue benefits the proposal would net and the other programs (like human services/culture) that would benefit. Their only opposition was the fact that it was UW and specifically that it would benefit the football program.
They also mentioned at the outset that the chairman of the committee, Sen. Prentice, had publicly said this bill was "DOA" and thanked her for that. Sen.Prentice then said that she never said that and that they were lying. Fortunately, she ran a tight meeting and wouldn't let these folks go on and on.
I don't know but I got the general feeling that these Cougies may have hurt their own cause by focusing so much of their anger at UW and only one small part of the bill.
Their issues of paying for our coaches, using part of the $2 Billion fundraising etc. are simply irrelevant. It's obvious that they were focused on harming UW only.
I also got the impression that the overall committee could see this. Sen. Prentice and Ed Murray helped tremendously and no other member of the cte. asked these people questions.
Anyway - that's about it. I had to leave after about 70 minutes. Don't know what happened after that.
Interestingly - There was a guy there in Husky garb that looked a lot like Jim Lambright. On leaving I went up and asked him if he were Coach Lambright. The guy just shook my hand and said Go Huskies!
T-90 Dawg added this to the thread:
Happy to have met you AJ. My mustache is bigger than Lambo's.
Nice summation. Both the Coogs that testified weren't well received IMHO.
I especially liked Senator Murray's response to the tax extension giving the UW an unfair advantage when he suggested all the current funding WSU gets from the legislature be eliminated to even the playing field. The coogs had no answer for that.
IIRC a woman representing WSU was for the bill and said the revenue sharing between Pac-10 teams helps all schools. She also said the Apple Cup being in Husky Stadium every other year nets WSU an average of $400K per year ($800K every other year), the implication was that if the game wasn't at Husky stadium WSU would lose money.
A rep from the PFD for Safeco was there in support, as well, saying they liked the continued funding support so Safeco could be maintained as time goes on instead of turning into the mess Key Arena wound up being.
The last guy to testify said he was from an organization wanting responsible use of tax money....I left
The two coogs didn't endear themselves to the committee is the impression I came away with.
Also, the city of Seattle needs some of this money to realize the $30 mill from the guy that stole the Sonics.
There was more testimony against the house version of the bill because of NO Stadium, Safeco, Key Arena or Qwest monies in that bill.
Thanks for the recap Jack. I wrote this last night in anticipation of the coming Cougar invasion in Olympia.
Loyal Cougar fans will now regroup to storm the Cherberg Center in Olympia on Wednesday to protest the extension and use of tourist taxes raised in King County specifically for sports venues such as Husky Stadium and Key Arena which just happen to be in King County.
The Cougars who showed up to protest came off like a bunch of idiots just like I thought they would. I am actually surprised they didn't bring bags of dog feces to throw at people which is a Martin Stadium tradition.
I don't think Cougfan opposition is an issue anymore. If you give some morons enough rope to hang themselves it is usually enough to do the trick.
Thanks for getting this posted Jack!
Try this link to TVW if you want to watch the hearing.
You'll have to scroll down to find the Ways and Means committee video link for 3/18