Community economic revitalization bill adopted by Senate

Sen. Judy Warnick has been working for two years to boost rural economic development with changes to the Community Economic Revitalization Board. Today the Senate passed Senate Bill 5442 which makes needed changes to the Board’s requirements to improve competitiveness and spur economic growth.

The Board offers financing and grants to local jurisdictions but requires that entities receiving funding demonstrate that permanent private sector jobs created exceed the county median wage. This poses a problem for many rural areas with high paying industries in a portion of the county but other economically depressed areas.

“We have a situation where communities who could really benefit from this program cannot compete,” said Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “This bill will mean a significant difference for rural communities by allowing 25 percent of projects awarded to be exempt from the median wage provision. We should be promoting opportunities to increase jobs and this change will mean more economic opportunity for rural communities. There will be a strong mix of prevailing, median, and near median wage jobs as a result of this legislation.”

Last year, then Rep. Warnick’s bill passed both chambers of the Legislature only to be vetoed. That bill would have provided for 50 percent of the projects awarded to be exempted from the median wage provision.

“This will attract more jobs to our communities and we have engaged with numerous stakeholders to make sure that concerns are addressed. The governor, labor groups and the Department of Commerce have come out in support of this bill to improve our state’s economy.”