House passes $4.6-billion capital budget giving boost to K-12, higher ed construction
The state construction budget, and accompanying bond bill, passed the House of Representatives last week. The $4.6-billion capital budget, prime sponsored by House Capital Budget Committee Chair Steve Tharinger (D-Port Townsend) invests heavily in public schools and colleges, mental health and environmental projects.
“This is a capital budget that puts people first while putting men and women in hard hats to work,” Tharinger said. “It will create jobs in every corner of the state and help tackle some of our toughest challenges, such as affordable housing, homelessness and the mental-health crisis.”
It is important to note that the Senate’s version of the capital budget, which awaits action on the Senate floor, is significantly different from the House version, with funding totaling $5.1 billion versus the House’s $4.6 billion. The difference is largely due to the fact that the Senate is assuming passage of an increase to the hazardous waste tax, authorized by the Model Toxics Control ACT (MTCA), largely paid by the refineries. With these additional funds, the Senate would spend significantly more on hazardous waste clean-up and prevention projects. The House does not assume any tax increases. Differences between the House and Senate versions will have to be ironed-out before final passage.
Building new public schools is the biggest piece in the House bill, with $1.1 building for K-12 schools, including $60 million for rural and distressed schools and $30 million for early learning facilities.
There’s $927 million in the budget for public colleges and universities, including $368 for community colleges.
Other highlights include $155 million for affordable-housing developments, $30 million for rural broadband internet access and $463 million to help the struggling populations of salmon and orca while improving water quality.
“I also want to thank the ranking Republican along with all the members of the committee, from both parties, for helping craft this budget in bipartisan way,” Tharinger said. Both the capital budget bill (HB 1102) and bond bill (HB 1101) passed unanimously out of the House.