Right now, a conference committee in Olympia is hashing out the details of the 2009-2011 budget. We’re almost done – the session should be over Sunday – so we really only have today and tomorrow to remind our legislators that we’re still paying attention.

This is mostly a recap, but here’s a list of what we care about in the budget conference, and where it came from:

  • Regional Mobility Grants are fine in the Senate at $40 million, retaining the competitive grant process (and Sound Transit has three of the five most cost-effective projects), but gutted in the House to remove Sound Transit’s projects entirely and cut the total down to $15 million.
  • Representative Simpson’s amendment in the House gives us a good solution to the ‘asset assessment’ for the I-90 express lanes, both requiring Sound Transit and WSDOT to be at the table and funding the assessment. While Senator Jarrett’s amendment was a step in the right direction, it left holes in funding and in process that Simpson’s amendment fills.
  • Representative Clibborn funded $10.6 million of R8A preliminary design work in this biennium, which keeps the WSDOT portion of the project on track. The Senate version as it stands would derail East Link entirely, but we’re hoping Senator Jarrett will help us out here!

There are other non-budget items of interest for transit as well:

  • SB 5513 means I can’t get drunk and unruly on nearly as many transit vehicles as I used to (without getting kicked off, anyway). Oh well. It basically just ensures that transit workers can enforce safety measures on more than just buses.
  • HB 1225 makes sure Sound Transit and other public and private transit agencies are exempt from special fuel taxes. Keeping government from taxing government!
  • And of course, SB 5433, which I posted about earlier in the week, would give transit agencies new funding tools, which we need everywhere in the state right now.

Those budget items could use phone calls! And if there’s anything I’m missing, please let me know.