Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, argues against the Capital Budget supported by some $1.1 billion in bond sales.
OLYMPIA — The House of Representatives gave overwhelming support this morning to some $2.8 billion in public works projects — from new facilities for universities to sewers in small communities — paid for by bonds or special accounts.
The list of projects includes $35 million to start the new Riverpoint Biomedical and Health Sciences Building in Spokane, and $30.5 million for the Patterson Hall Remodeling on the Eastern Washington University Cheney campus and $17.6 million for classroom remodeling on the Spokane Falls Community College campus, $17 million for stormwater overflow improvements in Spokane, and $3.5 million for the Spokane YMCA/YWCA.
HB 2020 also has smaller items, like $1.6 million to buy land around Antoine Peak, $1.25 million for the Spokane Food Bank distribution center, $862,00 for ARC of Spokane, $500,000 for baseball and softball fields at Betz Park in Cheney, $400,000 for the Spokane Aerospace Technology Center and $79,000 to the Spokane Neighborhood Action Program.
All would be paid for in by some $1.1 billion in bonds the state will sell over the next two years.
Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, chairman of the Capital Budget Committee, called the bond bill “the best and biggest opportunity we have to create private construction jobs across the state.”
But some Republicans balked, saying the state is taking on too much debt, and the bill includes money for the state to purchase new land. “We can't manage the land we already have. Why are we buying more?” Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley asked.
He was among 10 Republicans who cast no votes as the bill passed 84-10.
There were no such objections, however, to HB1497, a separate bill for some $1.7 billion in capital projects covered by accounts set up for special public works needs, ranging from sewer and water lines, to cleanup of toxic soils to construction of RV parks. It passed 94-0.
That bill has a budget proviso — a special order from the Legislature to a state agency — requiring the state Military Department to exchange a building and 5.5 acres it has at Geiger field with Spokane Community Colleger; the college will then trade that land with Spokane International airport for land for the Aerospace Technology Center.
Another section directs Eastern Washington University to sell its building at 701 W. First Ave. in Spokane and deposit the money in its capital projects account.
Both bills now go to the Senate, which must pass them by midnight tonight.