Tag Archives: Capital budget

Historic support for broadband in final capital budget

Schools, behavioral-health services and housing affordability are also big winners in compromise budget; funds 11 hatchery projects

Today the Legislature rolled out its final, agreed-to capital budget for 2021-23. The $6.3 billion bipartisan spending plan would invest a record $413 million toward the expansion of broadband, including $50 million in bonds for Sen. Jim Honeyford’s new program dedicated to seeking potential federal match opportunities (SB 5357).

“This budget is designed to meet many of the pressing needs that have perhaps always existed, but have been highlighted by the pandemic,” said Honeyford, R-Sunnyside. “What we were able to accomplish in the area of broadband is nothing short of historic.”

The capital budget’s funding for broadband includes:

  • $326 million for the State Broadband Office;
  • $60 million to the Public Works Board specifically for broadband;
  • $25 million to the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB); and,
  • $2 million for the Department of Natural Resources for broadband-related projects.

“Everything from e-commerce and education to telemedicine and precision farming has come to rely on equitable access to broadband,” said Honeyford. “Addressing the broadband needs of our communities has been one of my top priorities this session, so I’m happy to say that this budget provides the funds to face this problem head-on.”

The funding for broadband supports the goals of  Substitute Senate Bill 5357, Honeyford’s legislation to create a competitive-grant program in the Statewide Broadband Office. Grants made through the program would match funds required to participate in federal broadband-infrastructure programs, with priority given to projects in unserved areas.

The compromise capital budget (Substitute House Bill 1080, as amended) appropriates a total of $6.3 billion for the 2021-23 fiscal biennium. Of this amount, $3.9 billion is financed with general-obligation bonds. The remaining $2.4 billion consists of $589 million in federal stimulus funds, $275 million in Model Toxic Control Accounts, $255 million in alternative financing authorizations, and $1.2 billion in other funds.

Approximately $82 million in bond capacity is reserved for a supplemental capital budget.

Honeyford, who as Senate Republican capital budget lead is one of the chief architects of the plan, said the heavy investment in broadband, along with more than $428 million toward behavioral-health services and nearly $350 million for affordable housing, directly address three areas identified as priorities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to broadband, the capital budget prioritizes school construction and projects that focus on mitigating the damage of environmental disasters and preserving and developing existing properties – all while leaving capacity in the budget to address unforeseen future needs.

Honeyford noted that he was particularly happy that the state Department of Agriculture is provided $8 million to award competitive grants to state agricultural fairs for access and safety improvement projects.

“Agricultural fairs are critical to our ag communities and local economies,” said Honeyford. “This budget will provide the resources necessary to make sure fairs will be able to recommence in a safe and responsible manner.”

The capital budget would provide $930 million for K-12 school construction and modernization. It also includes $1.25 billion in total appropriations and alternative financing authority for higher education facilities, including $512.3 million for the community and technical college system and $732.6 million for four-year institutions.

“This budget continues the Legislature’s commitment to building new schools and new classrooms around the state in both urban and rural areas,” said Honeyford. “At the same time, it adds critical investments to our four-year universities and in our community and technical college system. This is a student-oriented budget that attempts to address students’ needs for safe, healthy school buildings, access to critical broadband, and facilities needed to address any behavioral concerns.”

Affordable-housing loans and grants is another area of emphasis. The budget includes:

  • $20 million to preserve aging affordable-housing units to continue to serve low-income residents;
  • $100.8 million for the purchase of homeless or emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing, or affordable housing for low-income people;
  • $42 million for grants to local governments and public utility districts to assist in the cost of utility improvements or connections to new affordable-housing projects; and
  • $5 million for housing for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Other highlights of the Senate capital-budget agreement include:

  • $243 million for local and community projects;
  • $36 million for 11 hatchery projects;
  • $7.6 million for the Washington State School for the Blind;
  • $49.4 million for Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth;
  • $81.3 million for clean-energy technology, energy efficiency grants, weatherization, and housing rehabilitation;
  • $121 million for developmental-disability services;
  • $491.3 million for water quality and supply programs, including:
    • $315 million for the Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund Program;
    • $40 million for the Centennial Clean Water Program;
    • $70 million for the Chehalis Basin Strategy;
    • $45 million for the Columbia River Water Supply Development Program;
    • $42 million for the Yakima River Basin Water Supply Program;
    • $4.3 million for projects related to the Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District projects; and
    • $5 million for a water banking pilot program to implement strategies to meet local water needs;
  • $253.9 million for toxics cleanup and prevention;
  • $76.2 million for state parks;
  • $120.9 million for flood-risk reduction and floodplain habitat restoration projects;
  • $386.2 million for recreation, conservation, and salmon recovery; and
  • $26 million for wildfire suppression and forest health.

The Senate is expected to consider the capital-budget agreement on Friday, with the House expected to follow shortly after.

IN THE NEWS: House delaying up capital budget OK

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When I pulled the pickup truck into Olympia in early January, I was hopeful this “short” 60-day legislative session would truly be just that — 60 days.

However, here I am at my Newhouse Building desk on day 60-something, with the Senate and House still miles apart on supplemental operating and capital budgets.

These supplemental budgets should be straightforward: We open up the two-year budget approved last year, make adjustments to account for events not seen in our budget-writing crystal ball (the cost of fighting summer wildfires being a traditional example), then close it up for another year.

News reports that the Legislature hasn’t reached an agreement on the “budget” are typically referring to the operating budget that pays for day-to-day state government activity, including public schools.

As chairman of the capital budget – the brick-and-mortar complement to the operating budget – the biggest part of my job is to compile a list of construction, remodeling and repair projects.

The projects that appear in a final capital-budget list may range from developing Naches Rail to Trail to directing funds toward demolition of Sunnyside’s old Carnation milk-processing plant.

Because items covered by the capital budget are tangible – things that can be touched, seen and pointed to – many lawmakers seek to get as many of their local projects on the capital-budget list as possible.

That’s why, early in my tenure as chairman, I began requiring my fellow senators to explain in writing what a requested project would cost and how it would benefit the community.

This year, I shared additional requirements with my colleagues to reinforce this is a supplemental budget year, not time to unroll the Christmas list.

To even be considered, a request had to address an emergency, address an unanticipated change in a previously-approved capital-budget program, correct a technical error or represent an opportunity that would be forever lost if not acted upon this year.

The result is the true supplemental capital budget passed by the Senate on Feb. 26. A broad bipartisan majority of my Senate colleagues agreed with my common-sense approach, which bumped the size of the budget by a modest $87 million while directing even more money toward building new K-3 classrooms, as well as supplementing mental-health housing and addressing public-health emergencies like a failing water system in Pierce County

The House has not voted on a capital-budget proposal; its version only cleared the budget committee, but I agreed to start negotiating anyway.

It immediately became apparent that “supplemental” means something different to House members – on both sides of the political aisle.

If you know what is meant by “bringing home the bacon” and “pork project” you’ll understand what I have been up against during our budget talks.

Both House and Senate budgets spend about the same amount, but the House budget priorities are not on building classrooms or addressing true emergencies. It would, however, do a dandy job of letting House members bring projects home to their districts.

There is little sign of the self-control reflected in the Senate proposal.

I hope we are able to negotiate a capital budget that is truly supplemental. If we fail and do not have a supplemental budget the existing underlying budget continues as we agreed upon last year.

I’m proud of how the Senate supplemental capital budget shows respect for taxpayers. It’s a shame my counterparts in the House want to put pet projects ahead of the best interests of the people of Washington.

The original article, published March 11, 2016, can be viewed here.

Senate approves ‘true’ supplemental capital budget

The Senate today gave a strong endorsement to its proposed supplemental capital budget, voting 39-10 for a collection of changes totaling $87 million. The budget would provide funding for new classrooms, mental-health support and environmental cleanup, without tapping the state’s rainy-day fund or relying on a new revenue source.

“It was gratifying to see my colleagues join me in supporting our public schools. Nearly 65 percent of this budget goes toward education. The $38 million to reduce class size in K-3 is by itself a great investment in the kids of our state. The additional $35 million for the school construction-assistance account further cements that commitment,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford, capital-budget chair.

Supplemental budgets are developed during 60-day legislative sessions – such as this year’s – to make minor corrections to previously approved budgets. 

“Within existing revenue, we responded to some of the biggest issues our state faces: education, mental health and environmental cleanup. Our proposed budget directs $20.8 million toward additional mental-health beds and temporary housing for those in treatment,” said Honeyford, R-Sunnyside.

“We couldn’t ignore the decline in the Model Toxic Control Act account so we tackled that issue too. Ensuring that our state can continue addressing toxic-cleanup projects should be a priority for lawmakers – and we made sure it is,” Honeyford added.

Senate Bill 6201 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.


Senate’s sensible supplemental capital budget built on solid principles

The Senate’s capital-budget chair said the $87 million supplemental capital-budget proposal released today focuses squarely on supporting new classrooms, providing temporary mental-health housing and addressing an environmental-cleanup emergency, all within available revenue.

“This is a true supplemental budget, not a laundry list of new projects. The supplemental is meant to be a vehicle for minor technical corrections or to address changes in previously approved projects. I insisted that we stick to those principles and the result is a realistic, sustainable capital budget that doesn’t tap the state’s rainy-day fund,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford. 

Nearly 65 percent of the proposed budget is devoted to bolstering K-12 education with $38 million going toward expanding the K-3 class-size reduction pilot program and another $17 million for the school construction-assistance account.  

“Education funding is like a giant puzzle that the entire Legislature is working to solve. This is the brick-and-mortar piece that is critical to the whole picture,” said Honeyford, R-Sunnyside. 

In response to the state’s mental health crisis, the proposed budget directs $20.8 million toward providing additional mental-health beds and temporary housing for those in treatment. It will also help to offset a decline in the Model Toxic Control Act account so that previously approved toxic-cleanup projects may move forward.  

“This is a sensible proposal that is exactly what the people of Washington expect of budget writers in Olympia — and something they deserve to see more often. This budget doesn’t write any checks we can’t cash while addressing the most dire needs of our state,” said Honeyford.  

A public hearing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.


Senate continues to put the ‘public’ back in public education with capital-budget approval

Capital budgetThe Senate today approved its proposal to build over 2,100 classrooms, fully fund 80 parks and trails, inject $60 million into local-government infrastructure projects statewide and provide $30 million to expand the number of community behavioral health beds.

Over 30 percent of the Senate’s $3.9-billion capital budget is devoted to supporting public education – through funding of new classrooms tied to K-3 class-size reduction efforts, more backing for skills centers and allocations for key projects at Washington’s largest public universities.

“Every legislator in Olympia has been focused this year on how to reduce class size and substantively improve education, but none of that can happen without building more classrooms. With this capital budget we are providing the brick-and-mortar complement to the McCleary books and buses,” said the Senate’s capital-budget chair, Sen. Jim Honeyford.

“The capital budget funds the construction and maintenance of state assets across Washington, and we saw opportunities to have it fit hand-in-glove with our operating budget and its emphasis on education. I’m pleased that my colleagues saw the possibilities I did for making education a priority in a way that hasn’t been seen in a generation,” said Honeyford, R-Sunnyside.

Additionally, the capital-budget proposal would complete 80 parks and trails around the state that have been in the waiting line for years.

“By temporarily delaying the Washington Wildlife Recreation Program’s procurement of habitat lands, for two short years, it frees the WWRP to focus on its own goal of developing recreation areas for the people who should be using them – the taxpayers,” said Honeyford.

The Senate proposal also supports local infrastructure and provides family-wage jobs by funding projects on the state Public Works Board loan list, and public-works loans authorized by previous legislatures, in addition to allocating $37 million for new local projects.

“This education-focused proposal lays a solid foundation for final negotiations with the capital-budget leaders in the House of Representatives,” said Honeyford. “In the end I have no doubt that we will hammer out an agreement that supports our kids, provides important construction jobs and builds up our fragile economy.”


Senate capital budget would boost schools, recreation, economic development

The Senate’s bipartisan capital-budget proposal for 2015-17 would build over 2,100 classrooms, fully fund 80 parks and trails, and devote $60 million to local-government infrastructure projects statewide.

The $3.9 billion plan was released today by Sen. Jim Honeyford, capital-budget chair; Sen. Karen Keiser, Democratic capital-budget leader; Sen. Bruce Dammeier, vice chair of education finance on the Senate budget committee; and Sen. Steve Conway. They led development of the budget, which will fund the acquisition, construction and maintenance of capital assets across Washington – such as schools and projects with recreational and economic-development value.

“This proposal is not only an investment in the state of Washington but also an investment in the people of Washington. Our plan provides complete funding for 80 parks and trails around the state. These destination sites will provide an economic boon to their communities while encouraging folks to get outdoors and explore a new corner of our state – a win-win,” said Honeyford, R-Yakima.

The proposal seeks to address the mental-health crisis in our state in part by including a $30 million grant that would expand the number of community behavioral health beds.

“This budget provides important investments in our citizens’ future not only by funding construction for K-3 class size reduction , but we also stepped up to fund our highly successful skills centers and vital projects at UW, WSU and WWU,” said Keiser, D-Kent. “We also provide substantial new investments for needed community mental health facilities.”

With $254 million more directed to public schools than the House proposal, the Senate plan seeks to support student-achievement efforts by building additional classrooms, the largest chunk being aimed at kindergarten through third grade.

“We all want to make sure our youngest students get the strongest possible start to their education.  Our operating budget makes an investment in ensuring we have quality teachers for these kindergarten through 3rd graders.  Now, this capital budget invests nearly $1 billion over the next six years to build over 2,100 classrooms for these students.  A quality teacher and a classroom for every 17 students will provide them a solid foundation for the rest of their future,” said Dammeier, R-Puyallup.

All public-works-board list projects are funded through the Senate proposal, which supports local infrastructure and provides family-wage construction jobs.

“This proposal is a good start and I am confident that we will negotiate a final product with the House that gets people working and drives our economy,” said Conway, D-South Tacoma. “The capital budget is a major creator of construction jobs, which are critical to strengthening our middle-class.”

The legislation will be a striking amendment to Engrossed House Bill 1115. A public hearing is scheduled for noon today in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Honeyford named top Republican on Senate ag committee

Senator Jim HoneyfordSen. Jim Honeyford began the 2013 legislative session Monday by accepting the role of ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee. Under the new Majority Coalition committee structure, some committees are chaired by Democrats, some by Republicans and some are co-chaired.

“The Majority Coalition Caucus could have claimed every committee-leadership position for its members,” Honeyford noted, “but we want to promote bipartisan collaboration and cooperation to get government working again. That’s why we chose to invite Senator Brian Hatfield, a 19th District Democrat, to chair the ag committee this year. He accepted, and I am looking forward to working with him and the other committee members this session.” Continue reading