A proposed project to widen State Route 202 is at the top of Woodinville’s priorities for the 2021 state legislative session. 

City council is hoping for $5 million in the upcoming state transportation budget to help pay for about half of the project’s estimated cost. The draft list of priorities was discussed at the council’s meeting on Nov. 10. 

As the state’s governing body prepares to reconvene, in most cases virtually, it's evident that it won’t be a typical session. The economic impact of the ongoing pandemic is projected to cause about a $4 billion budget shortfall through 2023, according to the Washington Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. 

The legislature will also have to navigate the technical hurdles of an unprecedented semi-virtual session as it creates a two-year spending plan. 

“I think the amount of work and activity that we are accustomed to seeing out of our legislature, which is often kind of overwhelming — we might be, dare I say, underwhelmed this session,” lobbying consultant Brynn Brady told city council Tuesday night.  

However, she also said there has been pressure for the state to pass a transportation package in the upcoming session, which might present an opportunity for the city’s project to receive funding. 

“I think being as prepared as you can in case (a transportation package) does advance is judicious,” Brady said. 

As the city deals with its own projected budget shortfall in the coming year, it also prioritized protection of shared revenue with the state. City staff expect the expenditures to exceed revenues by the end of 2021  but right-side by the end of the two-year budget cycle. 

“With the loss of streamlined sales tax mitigation payments to Woodinville shortly after our region began experiencing the impacts of the public health crisis, it is imperative that the State not continue to reduce the amount of funding they share with cities,” the city’s draft legislative agenda states. 

Looking ahead into 2021, Woodinville will also ask the state to preserve local control if long-awaited changes are made to the state Growth Management Act, which dictates how governments may plan for growth. The city opposes any proposed changes that “voids local planning,” such as minimum densities. A bill passed in 2019 encourages cities to authorize a minimum net density of six dwelling units per acre in residential zones in order to increase building capacity. Other proposed legislation has sought to require minimum densities in urban growth planning areas under the Growth Management Act. 

Council members are expected to approve the 2021 legislative agenda at the Nov. 17 meeting, which takes place after press time. 

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