Main Street bill heads to governor

Legislators have approved a measure to preserve the statewide Main Street Program.

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A bill that would relocate -- and consequently save -- Washington state's Main Street Program cleared the Senate on Tuesday.

The proposal to move the program from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation was supported 45-0 in the Senate and now moves to the governor's desk for approval.

Though the budget for the program is still uncertain and efforts to retain funding will be a focus in the closing days of the session, the program that provides assistance to more than 90 downtown revitalization organizations across the state is moving farther from the chopping block.

"This is exactly what we wanted," said Downtown Walla Walla Foundation Executive Director Elio Agostini this morning. "We wanted (the program) moved to Archaeology and Historic Preservation and feel that's probably where it's always belonged."

The state Main Street Program started in 1991 to help communities with downtown revitalization programs. Communities don't receive funding through the program, but do benefit from the training and support administered through the program

Of particular importance to Walla Walla, whose award-winning downtown follows the tenets of the Main Street Program, is the retention of the Main Street Tax Credit Incentive, which provides a 75 percent tax credit for private contributions to a designated downtown revitalization program.

The tax credit has been instrumental in securing financial contributions that have helped grow the downtown foundation's annual budget.

The bill to relocate the program to another state agency is co-sponsored by Rep. Dean Takko, a Democrat from the 19th district, and Rep. Bill Hinkle, a Republican from the 13th district.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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