Trying to kick-start the state's lagging economy, Gov. Chris Gregoire on Thursday unveiled a $1.2 billion proposal that includes more than $90 million in buildings at Spokane-area colleges, repaving local highways, and $15 million more for the North Spokane Corridor.
“We can quickly create thousands of new jobs this year and next by accelerating nearly $1 billion in public works projects,” the governor said in a written statement. “The plan will create a legacy of roads, schools and green-collar jobs to thrust our state firmly into the 21st century.”
The plan includes $427 million in construction projects that Gregoire says are ready to break ground within the next few months, if lawmakers approve. She also wants to spend another $390 million on ready-to-go transportation projects.
The plan -- plus the 1,400 state-funded transportation projects already underway – will mean about 20,000 new jobs over the next two years, the governor said.
About a third of the money -- $400 million -- would come from Washington's $4 billion unemployment insurance trust fund, which Gregoire's office said yesterday could pay 20 months of unemployment checks.
Those checks currently top out at $541 a week; Gregoire wants to add $45 to that. She also wants to tap the unemployment fund to pay for “a temporary, across-the-board tax reduction” for employers.
-Gregoire also wants to:
-expand eligibility for training benefits, a stipend that unemployed people can get while retraining or going to school. As things stand now, the benefits are typically available only to dislocated wokers. Gregoire wants to allow such payments for disabled workers, veterans and low-income people.
-expand the “shared work” program, which pays unemployment benefits to workers whose hours have been reduced, but who are still on the job.
-perhaps make broader changes, including more worker benefits and permanent tax reductions for businesses.
Gregoire's plan comes as Democrats in Congress are finalizing their own, much-larger economic stimulus plan. The $850 billion federal plan is expected to include $300 billion in tax cuts. Among the proposals: a $3,000 tax credit for businesses that create or preserve jobs.
From Gregoire's project list: (click on link below)
North Spokane Corridor ($15,000,000): This investment continues work on the North Spokane Corridor, including grading of the southbound alignment from Freya to Parksmith and the construction of the Lincoln and Gerlach bridges.
-Spokane Falls Community College: Chemistry and Life Science Bldg. (Spokane): Construct a new 69,825 square foot science building to replace the Chemistry and Life Sciences Building. The new building will include classrooms and laboratories with updated technology and teaching spaces, as well as support space and offices. $29,263,000
-Spokane Community College: Building 7 Renovation (Spokane): Renovate the former Science Building for new instruction programs—radiology technology and biomedical equipment technician; and relocate the Student Health and Wellness Center, physical education and speech programs and the college computer services department. This project will completely renovate and reconfigure Building 7. $9,748,000
-Spokane Falls Community College: Music Building 15 Renovation (Spokane): Renovate and expand the Music Building to consolidate all of the music programs, create appropriate layout of program space, and focus on energy conservation by updating the HVAC system, replacing single pane windows, and insulating the building. $13,806,000
-Spokane Community College: Technical Education Building: Spokane Community College will construct a new 70,000 square foot technical education building to house related manufacturing, construction, and technical training programs in a facility specifically designed for those programs. The programs will share the use of technical training shops and laboratories. $32,335,000
-Eastern Washington University: Minor Works - Health, Safety & Code Compliance (Cheney)
These projects replace deficient fire alarm detection systems, repair items in non-compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act, update worn-out elevator system components, repair non-compliant building code items, update campus security systems, replace outdated exterior lighting systems, and repair worn-out or failed safety components of the domestic water system. $2,500,000
-EWU: Minor Works - Facility Preservation (Cheney)
The facility preservation program addresses roof replacements, building energy management systems upgrades, access controls updates, landscape improvements, pedestrian walkways, building interior improvements, building exterior improvements, and facilities condition assessments. $950,000
-EWU: Minor Works - Infastructure Preservation (Cheney)
Infrastructure preservation projects focus on upgrades and renewal of segments of the campus infrastructure. These projects include water systems improvements, steam line replacement, waste and storm water improvements, electrical upgrades, and campus utility meters. $1,000,000
-EWU: Minor Works - Program (Cheney)
Minor work program projects include campus Americans with Disabilities Act non-compliance mitigation, multimedia-enhanced classrooms, classroom improvements, facilities network upgrades, Cheney Hall second floor improvements, interior space renovations, campus water conservation program, campus walkway improvements, Showalter Hall first floor improvements, playfield improvements, campus gateway monuments, emergent needs, and record drawing electronic conversion. $2,000,000
-Orphaned & Abandoned Site Cleanup - City parcel site in Spokane (Spokane)
This project will remove polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination from the soil, thereby preventing contamination of the ground water. $1,277,000
-Washington Wildlife Recreation Program - Palouse City Park (Palouse)
This project will renovate the Palouse City Park. $12,000
-Washington Wildlife Recreation Program - Rocky Hill Park (Liberty Lake)
-Hot Mix Asphalt Pavements ($33,000,000)
Hot mix asphalt is used on roads with higher traffic volumes. The average life of asphalt roads is 16.5 years in Western Washington and 11.3 years in Eastern Washington due to seasonal temperatures (statewide average 14.7 years). State stimulus asphalt preservation projects to address pavement due for replacement are:
• US 195/Idaho State Line to Colton - Paving
• US 395/Loon Lake to Immel Road - Paving
• US 2/Jct SR 211 to Newport - Paving
• US 395/Spokane Co. Line to Loon Lake - Paving