WA State Senators Present 2022 Supplementary Budget
On Wednesday, Senate lawmakers in Washington released a bipartisan supplementary capital budget proposal that would make significant investments in areas including housing, broadband access, environmental issues and earthquake safety for schools.
The proposed budget includes $94.8 million in spending from available bond capacity, $561.6 million from the state’s fiscal stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, and $290.3 million from grants. Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Democratic Senators David Frockt of Seattle and Mark Mullet of Issaquah prepared the budget proposal alongside Republican Senators Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside and Mark Schoesler of Ritzville.
Frockt, who serves as vice chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, noted at a press conference Wednesday that the budget is larger for a supplementary budget than in previous years due to available federal funds.
In a statement, he said the budget would invest in “the most pressing issues” in the state.
“We are delivering on our promises to expand high-speed internet access, help solve the state’s housing and homelessness crisis, conserve our natural resources, and make schools safer from earthquakes. landfills and tsunamis,” Frockt said. “I’m happy to expect bipartisan support for this budget given the collaborative work we’ve done to put it together.”
“We worked collaboratively on a budget that is well represented in all parts of the state,” Schoesler told McClatchy in an interview.
Schoesler said a “bipartisan budget contains compromises.” He explained that there are areas in the budget that are higher than he would have liked, while things such as more money for water projects in eastern Washington are not were not the “president’s highest choice”.
Homelessness and affordable housing would receive the largest share of funding in the proposed capital budget, with $472 million in investments earmarked for things like preserving affordable housing, converting properties into emergency shelters and in permanent housing, rapid housing and rural housing projects. $86 million of these investments would create greater capacity for crisis facilities so that people, especially the homeless, can seek care and have short-term housing.
The proposal also includes $327 million for projects such as planning and improving water pollution centers, cleaning up toxic sites and other environmental investments. More than $6 million of this total will be spent to clean up the Eatonville landfill and Pacific wood processing site. Field Springs and Kopachuck State Parks could also expect $2.6 million in funding for upgrades.
Broadband expansion and planning for the state could also result in investments of $120 million from federal funding under the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program. The investments would expand broadband access to rural and historically underserved communities.
Additionally, senators proposed $115 million in spending for a new School Seismic Safety Grant Program introduced by Frockt this session to retrofit or replace school buildings in tsunami or “high earthquake zones.” Additional funding of $8 million would complete a 2019-2021 renovation program for schools.
Supplementary budgets are voted in even years to make adjustments to the primary budget, voted every two years. The current capital budget covers the biennium 2021-2023.
This story was originally published February 16, 2022 3:04 p.m.