NEWS BRIEFS: Spokane delays public safety levy

Plus, students get summer food cards; and there won't be three Bob Fergusons on August ballot

On April 29, the Spokane City Council voted, at Mayor Lisa Brown's request, to put a large public safety property tax levy on the August ballot. Ten days later, at Brown's request, they voted to take it off. In a news conference last week, Brown explained that she is changing course and postponing the public safety levy because she thinks the city needs more time to do financial analysis and engage with community concerns. "I want to make sure we do this right," Brown said. A levy will still be necessary at some point to maintain police and fire services and avoid layoffs, Brown said. The city faces a $25 million deficit in its general fund, which Brown has said largely stems from her predecessor's management. Council member Jonathan Bingle thinks it will be possible to address the deficit without raising taxes, and is planning to bring a proposal forward. If passed, the proposed levy would have raised an estimated $38 million each year to start, with the median Spokane homeowner paying an additional $337 each year, according to the city's analysis. Two-thirds of the funds raised would have covered existing services, with the rest going to "new citywide and neighborhood investments." Read more on (NATE SANFORD)


Earlier this week, the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction announced that nearly half of the state's students would be receiving more financial aid to buy food over the summer. Thanks to federal approval in April 2024, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services partnered with OSPI to offer summer electronic benefit transfer cards loaded with $120 of "SUN Bucks" to more than 500,000 students in the state. They will be distributed as a onetime payment toward the beginning of June. Students who are part of a household receiving federal- and state-funded food assistance will automatically be enrolled to receive the funds. However, low-income students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals can apply to receive the SUN Bucks. More than half of the students at Spokane Public Schools, about 18,000, are considered low-income and would qualify, according to OSPI enrollment data. Additionally, these funds will not affect a student's eligibility for any other summer nutritional programs that are already offered. (COLTON RASANEN)


In a strange twist that ended nearly as quickly as it began, two additional men named Bob Ferguson filed to run for Washington state governor just before the candidate filing deadline on Friday last week. Conservative activist Glen Morgan took credit for helping add the additional Bobs to the ballot. On Monday, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democratic candidate for governor, held a press conference not only decrying the action, but pointing out that it's a felony for people with the same name to file to run if the intent is to dilute the vote for a well-known candidate. Before the 5 pm deadline on Monday to withdraw, both the other Bobs had taken themselves out of the running. That leaves a meager 28 names to be listed for governor on the August ballot. (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL)