As of Thursday, May 4, 2017
OLYMPIA In a surprise move yesterday, Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed one section of a bill co-sponsored by a Lower Yakima Valley legislator.
House Bill 1017 would authorize the construction of schools and school facilities outside of designated urban growth areas.
The governor’s veto means the bill will now only affects school districts in Pierce County.
Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, is a cosponsor of the bill. The 15th District legislator said he is disappointed the statewide solution legislators worked for and school districts wanted is no longer an option.
“The governor’s decision clearly sends the message that the urban growth boundary line is far more important to him than local, community-based decisions,” Taylor said. “It’s illogical to continue having schools placed in industrial zones when there is oftentimes available land outside urban growth boundaries that is more affordable and makes more sense for students and school districts.”
“It’s a shame the governor, despite his continued talk of one Washington, is not serious about treating rural communities the same as urban communities,” co-sponsor Rep. Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane Valley said. “With this veto, he’s ensuring schools around the state will not be allowed to modernize and students will continue to be educated in portables.”
House Bill 1017, which has 27 co-sponsors, was approved 31-17 in the Senate and 81-15 in the House.
Central Washington school districts, like Richland, were depending on the bipartisan solution, Taylor said.
“Unfortunately, this is another example of bureaucrats in Olympia thinking they know better than locally elected officials who work closely with their school districts,” Taylor said.
Many school districts around the state have struggled to find land within urban growth boundaries suitable for new school construction, he said. Another challenge is land within these boundaries can be expensive and distant from where students live.
“We had a solution that would have benefited students, schools and local communities around the state,” McCaslin said. “Instead, the governor indicated his preference again for the Puget Sound region.”