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Capital budget plan prioritizes K-12 school construction and mental health

From news releases

On January 19, Governor Inslee signed a 2017-19 capital budget with $4.17 billion in total spending and $2.72 billion in bonds.  The budget was passed after a year’s delay when legislators agreed to new rules governing small water wells. 

The capital budget plan prioritizes K-12 school construction needs with $933 million allocated for the School Construction Assistance Program. These funds will help address a record number of local school bond levy needs across the state. An additional $35 million is set aside for small, rural district modernization grants. Additionally, $860 million is included for higher education facilities.

With psychiatric wards consistently over capacity, the budget also allocates $136.5 million for community-based and institution funding for construction projects, including:

  • Statewide investments in behavioral health community capacity;
  • Security updates and renovations at Eastern and Western State Hospital;
  • Adds 128 minimum-security beds for female offenders with mental health disorders at      Maple Lane; and
  • Funds the development of a statewide plan to inform future funding decisions.

The plan also allocates $106.5 million for the Housing Trust Fund, including:

  • Supportive housing and case-management services for people with chronic mental illness;
  • Housing projects that benefit those affected by natural disasters; and
  • Veteran housing projects.

Other highlights include investments in the Public Works Assistance Account, with $97 million for the currently authorized loan list, and $19 million for preconstruction and emergency loans. Additionally, $80 million is allocated for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program for critical habitat, farmland preservation, local parks, riparian protection, trails and water access.

The compromise on water involved devoting more tax money for persons drilling new wells to serve households, along with some restrictions on the amount of water to be pumped, depending on water scarcity in the relevant region.


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