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State Senate releases capitol budget proposal

Proposal offers education, water funding

— Yesterday, the state Senate released a bipartisan, capital budget plan that would dedicate a record $1.1 billion toward school construction.

Senate Bill 5086 appropriates $2.53 billion in bonds and $1.46 billion in cash for the 2017-19 biennium and the 2017 supplemental budget.

The funding proposal does not dip into the state rainy-day fund and would leave $41 million of bond capacity in reserves for a 2018 supplemental capital budget.

Sen. Jim Honeyford, capital budget chairman, and Sen. David Frockt, lead Democrat for the capital budget, are chief architects of the $4 billion proposal for funding capital assets like school-building construction and mental-health facilities during the 2017-19 biennium.

“This budget proposal is designed with Washington students in mind, as it would invest an historic level of support for K-12 reforms,” Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, said. “In addition to education, we prioritize projects that focus on helping meet our state’s mental-health needs, mitigate the damage of environmental disasters and preserve and develop existing properties – all while leaving capacity in the budget to address unforeseen future needs.”

A total of $1.1 billion would be appropriated for K-12 education-facility construction, renovation or modernization.  Major investments include:

  • School Construction Assistance Program: $779 million in state bonds and $185 million from the Common School Construction Account;
  • $17.5 million for K-3 class-size reduction grants;
  • $40 million for grants to small, rural school districts;
  • $23 million for grants to distressed schools; and
  • $26 million for skill centers.

The Senate capital budget includes $857 million in total appropriations and alternative financing authority for higher-education facilities, including $493 million in general-obligation bonds.

Of the total spending authority, $428 million would go to the community and technical college system and $429 million to Washington’s public four-year institutions. 

The plan released yesterday contains $112.5 million for flood-control and water-supply projects, well as $164 million for drinking-water loans and grants.

It also proposes $220 million for the Water Pollution Control Revolving Program and $35 million for the Centennial Clean Water Program.

Mental-health needs, another priority for Honeyford and Frockt, would receive $78 million in the Senate proposal. It includes $19 million for behavioral health community capacity and up to $19 million from the state’s housing trust fund for behavioral-health investments.

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