State Senate pitches new spending

Lawmakers released a $1.3 billion proposal for the capital budget, which helps pay for a wide variety of projects in communities around the state.

 


Elementary school children, unhoused residents, electric vehicle owners and soccer fans are all covered in the Washington Senate’s capital budget proposal.

Budget writers on Thursday released their $1.3 billion plan, which funds construction and infrastructure projects across the state. It includes new

money for affordable housing, K-12 schools and behavioral health facilities, with increases of more than $100 million in each of those areas.

Nearly half the money in the plan comes from the state’s new auction of air pollution allowances to businesses with carbon emissions. A looming Republican-backed initiative to repeal the Climate Commitment Act threatens to jeopardize these funds in the future. Lawmakers proposed pushing back the start of some new climate projects until January 2025, in case voters approve the initiative in November. The spending blueprint treats capital gains tax dollars similarly. It does not fund anything with that revenue past 2024, in case voters approve a

separate initiative to repeal the tax – which brings in dollars for school construction and early learning. Noteworthy for soccer fans: lawmakers included $20 million to help cover the cost of the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Seattle, which will host six matches.

Washington’s capital budget is one of three state budgets lawmakers must pass every other year. In off years, like this one, they pass a supplemental budget, which adjusts the two-year spending plan passed the year before. The supplemental plan would cover spending through June 30 next year, when the upcoming fiscal year ends.

The $1.3 billion would come atop $9 billion in capital spending lawmakers allocated last year through 2025. “On all the key issues before us, I think this budget will do a lot of good,” Sen. Mark Mullet, Democrats’ lead on the capital budget, said. The proposal also has Republican support. en. Mark Schoesler, GOP leader on the Senate capital budget, praised the plan for tending to a variety of needs statewide. House lawmakers will release their capital budget proposal next week. Both proposals will have to be consolidated into one and approved by both chambers by the end of the legislative session on March 7.

The Housing Trust Fund, the largest pot of state money available to build more affordable housing,

would get another $111 million. Some of that money would flow to competitive grants. Other chunks would go to specific projects in places like Kenmore and Leavenworth.This money would be in addition to the record $400 million set aside for the trust fund last year. Most of that money has already been allocated.Lawmakers took a slightly different path on housing than the one outlined in Gov. Jay Inslee’s spending plan, released in December. He wants to dedicate $100 million to the state’s Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition fund.

 

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