The Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) is critical to ensuring that local jurisdictions can provide and maintain safe and reliable infrastructure in their communities. The legislature’s appropriation of PWAA revenue to The Public Works Board (PWB) funds programs that help maintain the health of residents, protects the environment, and fosters economic development. This access for local governments to affordable loan financing, allows them to respond to growth by modernizing systems and maintaining their existing infrastructure. The PWB helps provide Washington’s citizens with access to modern and functional infrastructure while also providing affordable monthly utility rates.
The PWAA receives revenue from the repayment of local government loans and through the statutory allocation of a percentage of certain taxes to the account. For many years, much of this revenue has been diverted by the legislature from the account for other purposes.
Fortunately, several of these revenue diversions are set to expire in June of 2023, and new legislation has been introduced to permanently protect repayments made by local jurisdictions from being used for other purposes.
WSAC has a track record of prioritizing the protection of PWAA revenue from diversions so that it can be appropriated to the PWB and distributed to local jurisdictions. This Legislative Session represents a critical opportunity as we work to ensure the current revenue diversions sunset on June 30, 2023. For this reason, we support the Governor’s proposed Capital Budget, which assumes this sunset by providing a $400 million dollar appropriation to the PWAA. This amount would go a long way toward replacing and restoring the backlog of failing local infrastructure in our state. It also honors the promise to sunset the revenue diversions from this account that has for many years kept the program from operating at its full potential. Also, this session, we are in support of new legislation introduced by Senator Mullet that would protect loan repayments to the PWAA from future diversions.
Senate Joint Resolution 8201, if approved and ratified by the voters, would amend the state Constitution to establish a new Public Works Revolving Trust Account where the repayments of PWB loans by local jurisdictions would be deposited and only used for new loans and grants.
If SJR 8201 is approved by the voters, SB 5303 will be enacted and establish The Public Works Revolving Trust Account in the State Treasury. The bill also provides that the account is governed by the new protections in Article VIII of the state Constitution and requires that repayments be paid into the Public Works Revolving Trust Account, and only be used for future loans and grants to local governments for public works projects.
WSACE, Policy Director