The recently completed short session of the state Legislature ended with some good news for Renton.
The Legislature anted up $50,000 for an English Language Learner program for employees of Renton businesses who speak little or no English. And there was another $50,000 for the Small Business Development Center.
Both appropriations were key to ensuring the two programs continue. The programs recognize two realities: small businesses are one of the cornerstones of the city’s economy and Renton is a melting pot of many nationalities where English isn’t always spoke at home, but it’s critical to the safe and efficient operation of a business.
Renton also took the lead in an initiative intended to strengthen the state’s aerospace industry. Really, that means Boeing, the biggest city employer.
There’s also state money in the budget to remove the two drydocks that sank years ago off what is now the Seahawks’ practice facility. The job also will cost the city some money, about $200,000. That work could happen this summer.
The Legislature also added $70 million in new funding for affordable housing, one of the important issues on Mayor Denis Law’s agenda. The state money includes $10 million in what’s known as rapid-response funding. Some of the money likely will go toward the purchase and preservation by the King County Housing Authority of the Wonderland Estates Mobile Home Park.
In general the legislative session was relatively quiet. Money was set aside in a massive reserve account to get the state through hard times. But this being an election year, the legislators didn’t get too deep into policy issues that could come back to haunt them with voters and their opponents.
Renton has a strong team of legislators on its side, including state Sen. Margarita Prentice. Also, city officials, especially the city’s economic development director, Suzanne Dale Estey, were in close contact with that team. Key players in the community, including the Renton Chamber of Commerce and the Renton Technical College, also worked to ensure the city’s interests were protected.
In the future, Renton will have even more legislators to turn to for help. With the Benson Hill annexation now on the books, the city has moved solidly into the 5th and 47th legislative districts. Already, the city includes three legislative districts, the 11th, 37th and 41st.
Dean A. Radford can be reached at 425-255-3484, ext. 5050, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.