WASHINGTON STATE

HOUSE DEMOCRATS

House passes $3.7 billion construction budget

Builds schools, colleges, mental health facilities

OLYMPIA – Democrats and Republicans in the House united behind a capital budget that would put billions of dollars to work for construction projects, with most of that construction focused on education and higher education.

“This will build classrooms for kids and computer labs for universities,” said Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish), chair of the Capital Budget Committee. “It will also create thousands of jobs for men and women in hard hats while fixing parks and creating new facilities to treat mental illness.”

The state Supreme Court has ruled that lawmakers must fully fund public schools, including new classrooms to reduce overcrowding in kindergarten to third grade. The court also ruled the state’s mental health system is unconstitutional, with patients strapped to gurneys in hospital hallways or languishing in jail.

A large chunk of the House budget is aimed at education and mental health, with $1.6 billion in construction funds for education and $72 million for facilities to treat mental illness.

The budget was a joint proposal by Dunshee and the ranking Republican on the committee. It passed the House Capital Budget Committee unanimously and passed the House on a 96-2 vote.

Here are the highlights of the bipartisan budget:

Education: $1.6 billion on education, including $627 million on School Construction Assistance Program, with reforms to help most needy schools and ensure access to STEM and Skills Centers.

Mental Health: $72 million, including upgrades and higher capacity at Western and Eastern State hospitals, new E&T facilities, psychiatric beds, and a long term plan for 700-bed mental health treatment facility.

Housing: $80 million to targeted Housing Trust Fund projects, $20 million for weatherization for homeowners and $10 million for community energy efficiency program

Natural Resources: $191 million for the Water Pollution Control Program, $63 million in Stormwater Financial Assistance, $43 million in Floodplains by Design, $57 million for state parks and $8.1 million in Coastal Restoration Grants.

Other projects: $5.7 million in Building for the Arts, $21 million in the Building Communities Fund, $10 million for Heritage Capital Grants and $75 million in local community projects.

The budget also includes projects in the 44th District, including:

  • $500,000 for Cavalero Park, which would be the first major regional park facility developed by the City of Lake Stevens with Snohomish County.
  • $10,000 to rebuild the current monument at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Snohomish.