Washington State House Democrats


Tharinger: House construction budget invests a record $2 billion for education

$1.1 billion to build public schools and $927 million for colleges and universities

OLYMPIA—The state construction budget released by Capital Budget 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.”

The budget (House Bill 1102) totals $4.6 billion with $3.1 billion in projects funded with bond revenue.

Building new public schools is the biggest piece, with $1.1 billion 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.

To help expand the state’s ability to treat mental illness and addiction, the proposal includes:

  • Funding for a Behavioral Health Teaching Hospital at the University of Washington
  • $172 million for construction, renovation and upgrading of existing facilities;
  • Funding to design and construct two new 16-bed and two 48-bed behavioral health facilities;
  • $34 million to design and begin construction on a new forensic hospital;
  • $117 million for community behavioral health facilities, a critical piece to transition patients from Western State Hospital to less restrictive settings where outcomes are better and cheaper;
  • $30 million for permanent supportive housing.

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.

The proposal is scheduled for a public hearing at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and a vote in committee later this week. It’s expected to get a vote on the floor early next week.

You can find full details about the construction budget proposal here:

2019-21 Biennial Budget: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2019/hc1921p.asp

2019 Supplemental: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2019/hc2019p.asp