OLYMPIA – Legislators retraced some of their steps Tuesday from the regular session, re-approving some bills that one chamber supported but the other didn’t before time ran out last week
The House passed an $861 million bond measure to retrofit public schools and make them more energy efficient. Democrats said the bill would provide 38,000 jobs, and save the schools money on their utility bills; Republicans said it was an example of the state spending what it doesn’t have, borrowing money to pay for temporary construction jobs.
Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, said the state will take money from taxpayers, which will hurt jobs: “The people have reached deep down into their pockets and there’s no more to give.”
But Rep. Timm Ormsby, R-Spokane, argued government spending does have a role in helping the local economy. “We’re talking about smart government investment,” he said, like federal polices of the New Deal in the 1930s and the interstate highway construction under President Eisenhower.
It passed 54-39 (click here go inside the blog to see the Spokane area votes) and was sent back to the Senate. If the bill passes, voters would have to approve the bonds in November by agreeing to raise the state’s debt limit.
The Senate passed a bill that tells state agencies to find a certain level of savings or send workers home without pay for 10 days over the next 15 months. There are some exceptions for low-paid staffers, and the number of furlough days has dropped from the initial proposal in January, which called for 16 furlough days, or one a month from this month through June 2011.
The Senate also approved tax exemptions for data centers in rural areas, giving strong support to a bill that didn’t pass before time ran out last week. The bill would forgive the taxes on construction and equipment for large data centers built between next month and July 2011, and is designed to draw the facilities to the Wenatchee-Quincy areas, boost construction in those areas temporarily and create long-term jobs that pay at least 150 percent of the county’s per capita income.
Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, argued the tax exemptions should be available in any county with high unemployment, including Pierce County where a data center project is underway but could be stopped if it has to compete with facilities in rural counties that get an exemption. The Senate turned down Kastama’s amendment on a voice vote before approving the rural county exemption 39-4.
House Bill 2561, which would allow the state to sell $861 million in bonds for energy conservation projects at schools, passed 54-39.
Here’s how Spokane-area representatives voted:
Yes: Timm Ormsby, D.
No: Larry Crouse, Susan Fagan, Joel Kretz, Kevin Parker, Joe Schmick, Matt Shea and Shelly Short, all R; John Driscoll and Alex Wood, both D