Rep. Blake’s Newsletter: SPECIAL BUDGETS EDITION

Washington’s three budgets

Last Monday, House Democrats rolled out the proposed operating, capital and transportation budgets, as well as a revenue plan. These budgets reflect our values and our vision for a future that puts people first.

The capital budget, sometimes called the construction budget, is how the state invests in buildings and other long-term assets. Much of our work to increase affordable housing and address environmental restoration comes from this budget. The transportation budget is how things like roads, ferries, and bridges are built and maintained, and it also funds our state patrol. Money for this budget comes mainly from the state gas tax, which can only be spent on transportation-related matters as mandated by the state Constitution. Finally, the operating budget is the largest of the three and pays for everything else, including behavioral health, education, social services and many other necessary services.

We passed the transportation and the operating budgets on Friday and we will bring the capital budget to the floor for a vote this week.


Operating Budget Highlights

I want to give you some of the highlights in the $52.6 billion 2019-2021 budget, but you can also take a look at the budget documents here.

budget

  • Significant investments in our continued effort to fix the state behavioral health system by expanding community behavioral health beds and services; ensuring the stability of our state hospitals and the safety of our patients and staff; and complying with the Trueblood settlement agreement.
  • Investments in housing programs and services for permanent supportive housing and youth homelessness; and the Housing and Essential Needs Program, which helps people with disabilities who are struggling to find or maintain housing.
  • This budget proposal fulfills the bipartisan promise made by the Legislature to fund health care coverage for school employees through the School Employee Benefits Board program. Other education investments include funding for special education, levy assistance for areas with low-property values, and student mental health and safety.
  • The Workforce Education Investment expands access to programs like the Washington College Grant and career pathways in community and technical colleges, as well as apprenticeships. It also increases capacity in higher education institutions for high-demand programs such as computer science, engineering, and nursing. The goal is to ensure students are ready for the jobs of the future.
  • Other investments include expanding the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program slots; eliminating the backlog in testing sexual assault kits; improving salmon habitat and protecting orcas; increasing our wildfire response and addressing natural disasters; and expanding rural broadband.

Capital Budget Highlights

The House Democratic Capital Budget proposal released on Monday totals $4.6 billion with $3.1 billion in projects funded with bond revenue. It makes large investments in every corner of the state, such as $1.1 billion for public schools, which includes $60 million for rural and distressed schools; $927 million for public colleges and universities; $30 million for rural broadband internet access; $155 million for affordable housing; $463 million to help salmon and orcas; and $117 million for community behavioral health facilities. These projects will help address many of the pressing issues we are facing, while also putting people to work all over Washington.

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There are $111.5 million in new appropriations for projects in the 19th district. These are some of them:

  • Aberdeen / Hoquiam North Shore Levee: Final design, permitting, property acquisition, and construction of the Aberdeen Hoquiam north shore levee and related stormwater conveyance and pump station upgrades.
  • Coastal Community Action Program: Funding for 19 projects that involve acquisition, construction or rehabilitation of  nonresidential facilities located in distressed communities, or serving a large low-income or disadvantaged population.
  • Morck Hotel: This project will develop and completely modernize the historic Morck hotel, and act as a rejuvenated landmark in the downtown core of Aberdeen.

Go to the capital projects list by district interactive page for more information. Be sure to select the “House Chair” version, choose the 19th District from the drop-down menu, and then click “View Report.”


Transportation Budget Highlights

The $10 billion transportation budget proposed by House Democrats makes investments in each part of the state to get people where they need to be and get goods shipped around the world. It includes major funding to remove fish-barriers on state roads as part of the broader solution to helping our struggling orca population.

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The $44.5 million allotted for projects that are in or go through the 19th district will continue funding existing projects and start some new ones. Here are a few highlights:

  • Beech Street: Extension of Beech Street from 14th Avenue to California Way, including 2,000 linear feet of 3-lane roadway, curb, gutter, sidewalk, bike lanes, street trees, streetlights, and drainage features.
  • R 107/Chehalis River Bridge (S. Montesano Bridge): Replacement of timber structure on the south approach, as well as all of the bridge railing.
  • SR 432 Longview: Construction of grade crossing for economic development
  • Wahkiakum County Health & Human Service Regional Mobility: Maximization and expansion of the effective use of Wahkiakum On The Move Service.

For more information on projects in our area, check out the transportation projects lists by district interactive page. Be sure to select the “House Floor” version, choose the 19th District from the drop-down menu, and then click “View Report.”


Thank you for reading my newsletter. Don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions, concerns or feedback.

Sincerely,

blake sig