Tharinger: Capital budget invests in schools, rural broadband and mental health
February 21, 2018 | By Rep. Steve Tharinger
OLYMPIA—The chair of the House Capital Budget Committee released changes (House Bill 2395) to the two-year construction budget that would invest more in public school construction, access to broadband internet in rural areas and mental health facilities.
“These projects will create jobs while building a better future for the people we serve,” said Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Sequim). “It’s a bipartisan budget that responds to changing conditions and emerging needs throughout the great state of Washington.”
Last month, the House and Senate approved a $4.2 billion two-year construction budget, delayed in 2017 by an unrelated water issue. This proposal would modify that budget and fund projects using new funds–$208 million in new capacity and $104 million from dedicated accounts.
The biggest changes include:
School construction—$88 million more to match recently-raised local funds and cover the significant cost overruns resulting from the delayed biennial capital budget and $14 million for Distressed School grants.
High-speed internet in rural Washington—$5 million in new funding to boost rural broadband access.
Mental health—$39 million to address lawsuits and other pressing needs that require immediate, coordinated investment, including $9 million to convert 60 beds at Western State Hospital from civil beds into forensic beds and $3.5 million for 25 forensic beds at Eastern State Hospital. Additionally, there is $11.3 million for five community based behavioral health facilities.
Emergent needs at other state facilities—Including leaking roofs, broken HVAC systems, security and cost increases.
Toxic cleanup—With greater revenues going into a fund to clean up toxic sites, the budget proposal funds additional stormwater and cleanup projects.
Housing and community projects—A $4 million boost to the Housing Trust Fund to help with affordable housing and $21 million for emerging community projects around the state.
To read the documents related to this budget proposal, visit http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2018/hc2018p.asp