AGC to Legislature: Restore infrastructure projects cut in Governor’s budget

As the State Legislature convenes with the issue of education funding as legislators’ top concern, AGC recently reminded policymakers that infrastructure investments should not be ignored.

In a letter to all legislators, AGC and partners urged support for 25 projects requested by the State’s Public Works Board. The $97.1 million in low-interest loans the state would provide local governments to help build the projects would come from the Public Works Assistance Account.

The Legislature created the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA), with the strong backing of AGC, in partnership with local governments to assist in addressing local infrastructure needs through a dedicated funding pool, existing as a revolving loan program. This program is managed by a citizen’s Board comprised of executives, engineers, and local elected officials with specific subject matter expertise on infrastructure needs, finance, and project development. The PWAA is a national model for infrastructure funding and all state revolving loan programs.

However, in recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars has been “swept” out of the PWAA by the Legislature and Governor to fill holes in the operating budget.

“You cannot argue with the program’s success: millions of dollars in infrastructure construction and improvements and hundreds of thousands of family-wage jobs created since the program began 30 years ago,” said AGC Executive Vice President David D’Hondt. “It has allowed local governments all over the state to receive low-interest loans to build more than 2,000 essential projects. These are loans at costs that cannot be matched by private sector financiers mean tax and ratepayers get more bang for their buck. We live in a time when the imperative is to do more with less, and this program delivers on that directive.”

Governor Inslee’s 2017-19 budget proposes discontinuation of the PWAA, casting local governments adrift in their search for affordable infrastructure-financing options.

AGC and its allies are asking the Legislature to restore the PWAA and fund the 25 projects already approved by the Public Works Board.

For more information, contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.