Senate Democrats propose $5 million for coronavirus pandemic impact

Overseas ports closing hit companies that depend on international shipping

OLYMPIA — A last-minute amendment to the Senate Democratic Caucus supplemental operating budget earmarks $5 million to help businesses negatively impacted by international responses to the coronavirus outbreak overseas.

Businesses such as Cosmo Specialty Fibers, a textile producer that does 97 percent of its business with companies in Asia, have been disrupted by port closures intended to stop the spread of the disease.

“This is a local business that has thrived despite disruptive tariff and trade wars, pays its employees strong wages, and has robust potential to expand, but it’s been thrown for a loop,” said Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview, in a written statement. Takko sponsored the amendment.

Companies will be able to request assistance funds from the state’s strategic reserve account to promote economic development, which is funded by a third of all unclaimed lottery money, according to a release from the Senate Democrats.

The operating budget had already provided $2 million for the account, much of which was already spoken for. Budget writers added $2 million in new funds on top of that, and the $3 million in Takko’s amendment means a total of $5 million in new funds.

The budget was approved by the Senate after a 33-16 vote Feb. 27.

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