Legislators wait for capital-budget agreement to end special session

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Evan Smith
By Evan Smith

Most local legislators are at home while the legislature’s third special session continues with a few negotiators working on a final capital budget.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a capital budget but the Republican-controlled State Senate has held it up pending repairs to problems raised by the State Supreme Court’s Hirst decision, which protects water for fish and other water rights holders but which has meant that some rural property owners can’t drill new wells.

Democratic 32nd District State Reps. Ruth Kagi and Cindy Ryu noted last week that the capital budget supports investments in clean drinking water, environmental programs like salmon recovery, improved mental health facilities, and housing programs.

Money for the capital budget comes from general obligation bonds, dedicated funds and federal grants.

Kagi and Ryu said that the House capital budget includes $1.8 billion to build schools, colleges and universities.

"The capital budget is about building a better future for our kids and grandkids,” Kagi said. “The operating budget pays to hire the new teachers and college professors we need due to our state’s population boom, but they won’t have anywhere to teach if we don’t build new classrooms and lecture halls through the capital budget.”

Kagi and Ryu added that the capital budget passed by the House would create 75,000 jobs in construction, engineering, natural resource rehabilitation, and related fields.

Ryu said that House and Senate Democrats and House Republicans had negotiated the capital budget that the House passed 91-1.

“It is the Senate Republicans' turn to come to the table,” she said.

Ryu also said that when the House and Senate finally agree on a capital budget, they would need to pass a bond authorization bill to pay for the capital appropriations before most provisions of the budget can take effect.

Democratic 32nd District State Sen. Maralyn Chase said Saturday that she expects that Senate Republicans eventually will negotiate because the same agricultural groups that have pushed them on water rights also don’t want to lose out on major projects in the capital budget.

The 32nd District includes the city of Shoreline, part of northwest Seattle, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas of Snohomish County, south Edmonds, the city of Lynnwood and part of Mountlake Terrace.

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.



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