STATE NEWS: House passes $6 billion capital works budget

(SYDNEY BROWN/Washington State Journal)

Plan would build schools, housing while local health services, parks also benefit…

Lawmakers passed a $6.23 billion capital budget April 2 in a unanimous vote, earmarking millions of state and federal funding for investments in community projects and public works.

“We’ve put together a budget that not only provides for the infrastructure needs of big urban centers, but prioritizes rural communities struggling to survive in the pandemic’s aftermath,” Rep. Mike Steele, R-Chelan, said in a statement.

For education, the proposal plans $781.7 million for the K-12 School Construction Assistance Program and $679 million for state four-year institutions. The proposal also offers $191 million for the construction of the University of Washington teaching hospital.

The budget also includes funding for local projects and grants, with $227 million in loans and grants for the Public Works Board and $94 million statewide for community projects. Another $175 million would go toward the Housing Trust Fund. Almost $26 million would go toward grants to increase homeless shelter capacity.

“We invest $90 million in what we call rapid housing acquisition … What that is designed to do is to help communities in immediate need to get people housed,” Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, said.

Money for local health services would also get funding, with $69.5 million dedicated for the Western State Hospital, Eastern State Hospital and other state facilities.

Improving state parks is also prioritized in the capital budget. The State Parks and Recreation Commission would get $56.7 million for parks across the state. Longer-term projects would get $5.7 billion — some of which comes from general obligation bonds — for schools, public works and parks.

The plan would dedicate $33.7 million for the Yakima River Basin and $31.7 million for the Office of the Columbia River.  Another $189 million from the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund would fund health monitoring and educational projects. The Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund invests $400 million in expanding broadband access, water and sewage.

A list by county of capital projects funded through this bill can be found here: