Capital budget in view after vote

— The state’s elusive capital inched closer to realization Monday afternoon when a Senate committee approved a bill allocating spending for the 2017-19 biennium.

The capital budget pays for state-authorized construction projects over a two-year period.

When the Legislature failed to pass a capital budget last year, many projects that were supposed to be funded were put on hold.

Senate Bill 6090 authorizes $4.2 billion in new projects for the biennium, nearly a quarter of which would go to public schools.

Much of the budget’s holdup is tied to the so-called Hirst decision, handed down by the Washington State Supreme Court in 2016, which made it more expensive and difficult for landowners to drill wells for household use.

Although the two issues are not directly related, Republicans and Democrats last year were unable to come to terms on a Hirst fix, which in turn caused Republicans to rebuff attempts to settle on a capital budget.

Even with a newfound one-seat majority in the Senate, Democrats will need help from the other side of the aisle, as the passage of a capital budget requires a 60-percent vote in each chamber.

More than 20 people showed up to testify on the proposed capital budget at SB 6090’s first public hearing Jan. 11, and all testified in support of its passage. Represented were public education, natural resources, and other government sectors.

Taking to the microphone first was Mike Hrachovec, principal engineer with Natural Systems Design.

Hrachovec explained that his company is involved in river restoration projects.



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