House construction budget ‘builds a better Washington’
OLYMPIA—The House released a bipartisan construction budget along with a related proposal that would put $1 billion toward building schools in the coming years.
“Our state is growing, so we need to build classrooms for the more than one million kids in our public schools,” said Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Sequim), chair of the House Capital Budget Committee. “This bipartisan budget is also aimed at handling disasters and emergencies, including wildfires, the homeless crisis and our broken mental health system.”
The construction budget includes $12 million to build K-3 classrooms, $35 million for the School Construction Assistance Program and funding for student housing and lab buildings at community and technical colleges across the state.
“We decided as a group to focus on two main areas; mental health and education. I think we did a good job of doing that,” said Rep. Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis). “We also made a significant investment in forest health, reducing future fire risk, while at the same time helping the communities devastated by the wildfires in 2015.”
House Bill 2968 would put $1 billion into building schools from 2016 to 2025 by shifting half a percent of what flows to the Budget Stabilization Account and utilizing it in the Education Construction Fund, with an initial transfer of $186 million to build classrooms.
The proposed construction budget also includes:
• $10.8 million for a pilot project to build classrooms with cross-laminated timber (CLT), an innovative new construction method that could create local jobs and make it profitable to thin forests, thus reducing the danger of wildfires.
• $5 million in emergency disaster response.
• Extensive funding to help the state's mental health system, including $9.5m for the Crisis Triage Center Grant Program, $21m for Community and Behavioral Grant Program and $16m for critical repairs and upgrades at state mental health facilities and hospitals
• $5 million to fill the otherwise empty Public Works Trust Fund, an important tool for local governments to fund local projects.
• $5 million for the Homeless Youth Grant Program, with an estimated 35,000 homeless students in our public schools.
###Washington State House Republican Communications