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Posts tagged: capital budget

House votes to spend lottery money for classrooms

OLYMPIA — A bipartisan plan to use state lottery money for bonds to build new classrooms passed easily in the House today.

On a 90-7 vote, the House approved a bill to build some 2,000 classrooms for kindergarten through Grade 3 classes which will be reduced in size as part of a plan to improve public school. It would sell $700 million in bonds, and pay them off over 20 years by taking $50 million annually from the state's lottery revenue.

A few Republicans said they agreed with using lottery money for education but objected to the bond plan. The state should be patient, use the lottery's cash flow, and avoid bonds and their interest payments.

House Capital Budget Committee Chairman Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, said bonds would quickly provide the money school districts will need to have all the necessary classrooms by the 2017-18 school year.

Earlier in the morning the House passed a separate Supplemental Capital Budget with $166 million in new projects.  Included in the lists are $1 million for the Spokane Valley Tech center and $2.9 million for the Veterans Cemetery Expansion.

Flurry of excitement in the Senate

OLYMPIA — Friday's debate over the Senate capital budget amendments prompted a brief but interesting bit of parliamentary drama in the ongoing maneuvering between minority Democrats and the predominantly Republican coalition that controls the chamber.

Democrats first objected to a fairly minor amendment to add $250,000 to the budget to study designs for a new State Patrol headquarters, which has its current home in antiquated building north of the Capitol. They said they were for the study, but didn't like the line in the amendment that said new HQ couldn't be on the Capitol Campus. Why keep the patrol off-campus, they asked

That's not what the amendment says, said coalition members. Yes it is, said Democrats, including Andy Billig of Spokane, who read directly from the amendment: “The predesign must consider a variety of sites, excluding sites on the West capital campus.”

Sen. Tim Sheldon, a Democrat who votes with the coalition, said Billig was reading it wrong. No, he wasn't, Democrats grumbled on the floor. (For the record, he wasn't.)

The amendment passed on a voice vote, but arguments quickly followed on another small amendment, supported by Democrats, to add money to fight flooding on the Chehalis River. Democrats called for a head count on that amendment. Those in favor stood and were counted; those opposed stood and were counted. Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who presides over the Senate, announced the count as 24-24, voted yes to break the tie and pass the amendment, and brought the gavel down. Coalition members, who have 26 members, claimed a miscount, but Owen told them staff had counted three times and arrived at the same number, and that he'd already announced the vote and dropped the gavel. So the decision stood. 

When the coalition put further debate on the budget on hold, Democrats moved to go to the Ninth Order of Business, essentially a move to force something onto the floor that's stuck somewhere in the process. They wanted a vote on a bill to aid the homeless, Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson said. The bill is stuck in a committee, and apparently dead without something like this to shock it back to life.

“It cannot wait,” Nelson said. “Let's not turn our backs on homeless children.”

The bill has bipartisan support, so in one sense this was a way of getting Republicans to bypass Committee Co-chairwoman Jan Angel to bring it to the floor for a vote. But going to the Ninth Order is real test of who controls the chamber sort of a parliamentary coup. So naturally, the Senate went to the equivalent of DefCon 1. Objections were shouted, questions were asked, errant members were brought back to the floor, a recorded vote was demanded.

Democrats lost 23-26, which is, of course the split between them and the Majority Coalition Caucus.

Back to ordinary business, and eventually, the passage of the Capital Budget on a bipartisan 31-18 vote.

Classroom building plan passes committee

OLYMPIA — On a unanimous vote, a House committee approved a plan to build some 2,000 new classrooms at schools around the state by tapping lottery funds.

The House Capital Budget Committee voted 13-0 this morning in favor of a proposal to sell $700 million in bonds to build classrooms for the kindergarten through Grade 3 classes that will be downsized as part of efforts to improve public schools. Smaller class sizes in those grades is one of the goals for meeting a state Supreme Court order to meet constitutional requirements for education.

HB 2797 would take $50 million in state lottery proceeds each year to pay off the bonds. The lottery is a steady and dependable source of money to pay off bonds, Committee Chairman Hans Dunshee said. Selling the bonds would allow the state to build the extra classrooms by the 2017-18 school year, when the classroom size reductions are scheduled to be in place, he said.

There would be no local match required from school districts, he said. The districts would apply to the state Superintendent of Public Instruction office to receive the money.

“We're not doing this because the court told us,” Dunshee said. “This is what we want to do. This is what we ought to do.”

Capital budget passes. Lege to adjourn

OLYMPIA — The Legislature passed a $3.6 billion capital projects budget this evening as its last action of its protracted session.

In quick succession, the House and Senate both passed the list of projects and gave the state the authority to sell bonds to build them.

With a plan to spend an extra $10 billion on transportation projects dead, the capital budget was the final thing on the Legislature's plate and adjournment is expected soon.

Senate Capital Budget released

OLYMPIA — The Senate's plan to spend some $3.6 billion on projects large and small, known as the Capital Budget, was released today with nearly $67 million for projects in Spokane County.

Among the largest Spokane-area projects are $8.5 million for the Extended Learning Center at Spokane Community College, $7.5 million for an upgrade of the water system on the Eastern Washington University campus, $5.4 million for a security electronics upgrade at Airway Heights Corrections Center and $3.9 million for a water main upgrade in southeast Spokane County.

It has $1 million for a new building for Spokane Public Radio and $240,000 for renovations at the Campbell House. 

A House version of the Capital Budget is expected later this week. After hearings and votes in both chambers, the project lists will have to match.

A complete list of Spokane County projects in the Senate proposal can be found inside the blog

Capital budget signed; Baumgartner questions project list

TACOMA – More than $1 billion in construction projects, from storm water runoff systems costing a thousand of dollars to the second half of a medical research facility in Spokane costing some $37 million, were signed into law Monday.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the capital projects budget at Tacoma Community College, where the state will spend $39 million for a new Health Career Center. She called it a package of jobs that present “a way out of the recession.”

While Gregoire and other legislators were lauding the list of projects, state Sen. Mike Baumgartner was requesting a study of whether election-year politics helped determine where money went. Districts represented by Democratic senators and Democratic senators facing re-election this year received far more than the state average per district and more than their GOP counterparts, his analysis showed. 

“I voted for the capital budget and it contains many worthwhile projects, but we need to make sure it’s not used for pork barrel projects in election years,” said Baumgartner, a first-term state senator from Spokane’s 6th District.

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, click here to go  inside the blog.


Gregoire to sign capital budget today

OLYMPIA — The Capital Projects budget, which contains about $1 billion in new projects around the state, is scheduled to be signed this afternoon by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

For certain segments of the Spokane population, this is the document most watched over and lobbied for during the late regular and special sessions. That's because it contains about $37 million for the second half of construction on the Washington State University-Spokane Biomedical and Health Sciences Building, the project many people just short-hand as “the med school.”

Naturally, that's not the only project in the Capital Budget for the Spokane area. We'll have a more complete list this afternoon, after the gov puts her autograph on the bill.

Spec Sess Day 30: House passes Capital Budget

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.

Spec Sess Day 29: One budget out, another on the way

Legislative leaders announce proposed 2011-13 general operating budget Tuesday.

OLYMPIA — Legislative leaders unveiled their latest — and possibly final —  version of the 2011-13 operating budget they described as painful but sustainable. A deal on the capital budget and changes to the state's debt limit are expected later Tuesday.

The proposed budget, which totals some $32.2 billlion for state programs and salaries, has cuts for every state agency and department. It has pay cuts for state workers and expected cuts for K-12 teachers and other school employees. It cuts but does not eliminate the state's Basic Health program, revamps the Disability Lifeline to end cash grants, cuts higher education but allows the universities and colleges to make up for much of the reduction by raising tuition as much as 13 percent at the University of Washington, Washington State and Western Washington universities, 11.5 percent at Eastern Washington University and 11 percent at community colleges.

The cuts are painful, but in some areas not as bad as earlier proposals, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said. Gov. Chris Gregoire's initial budget plan would have eliminated Basic Health and the Disability Lifeline. This proposal saves both, on much reduced levels.

“A budget seems like a math problem, but we all kknow it is really about people,” Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said.

This proposal is more responsible than previous budgets because it does not count on an infusion of federal cash or borrow from other accounts to keep it out of the red, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman said. The safety net is in place, but “it's thinner,” he said.

“This is the first budget that does not spend more money that we were forecast to have,” Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, said.

The proposal is written as an amendment to the bill sitting in the House of Representatives, where it has been since the start of the special session 29 days ago. It will likely come to a vote in the House later today and move to the Senate. There the vote will await the announcement of details of the state's other big spending package, the Capital Budget, and a possible agreement on plans to reduce the state's debt limit.

Negotiators reached a tentative deal on the Capital Budget at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, legislative leaders said, and will announce details Tuesday afternoon.

School districts will see a reduction in their state funding that equals a salary reduction of 1.9 percent for teachers and other certified staff, and a 3 percent reduction for administrators. The Legislature doesn't have the authority to cut those salaries, which are part of labor contracts negotiated between the districts and the individual unions. The districts will be able to reopen contracts to seek lower wages, or they could choose to make other cuts.

Those cuts are separate from the suspension of cost-of-living adjustments that voters approved by an initiative in 2000, and a “catch-up” of COLA raises that were suspended in the 2009-11 biennium. Teachers who are eligible for step increases will receive those raises.

Requirements to reduce class sizes, mandated by another 2000 initiative, are suspended, as is a program to reduce class sizes in Grades K through 4. A separate program for smaller K-3 class sizes in high poverty areas did receive money, however.

State employees would receive a 3 percent pay cut through a previously negotiated contract provision that calls for them to reduce work hours by 5.2 hours per month. Management in state agencies are ordered to cut between 7 and 10 percent.

A new system for daily and annual fees at parks, natural lands and other state properties is designed to offset a total of $68 million in total cuts to natural resource agencies such as State Parks, Department of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife. The passes, which have already been signed into law, will cost $10 for daily use and $30 for an annual “Discover Pass.”

Eligibility in the Basic Health program will be reduced to those who are eligible for Medicaid, and new admissions will be frozen, so the plan will cover about 37,000 people per month in fiscal 2012 and 33,000 in fiscal 2013.  The state will also cut payments to hospitals, health centers and rural clinics and emergency rooms being used for non-emergency conditions. It will elimnate the Adult Dental Health program and copayments for Medicare Part D copayments for some clients. It will require families enrolled in the Children's Health Program to pay higher premiums.

The Disability Lifeline program, which currently provides health care and cash grants to disabled people unable to work, is will be replaced with new programs for a savings of about $116 million. The state will continue to provide medical care through other programs, and offer vouchers for housing and essential services to eligible participants through the Department of Commerce. 


For details on cuts to the general operating budget, go inside the blog.

Brown: Med School, other projects in jeopardy

OLYMPIA — A disagreement over how to set the state's debt limit could lead to billions in state projects, including the proposed Spokane Medical School, being delayed, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said today.

To read the full post, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

WA Lege SpecSess: Capital budget passes Senate

OLYMPIA — Moving rapidly toward adjournment, the Senate passed the supplemental capital budget with almost no debate, 33-13, and went at ease for a few minutes.

Capital budget now goes to the House, which, if the pattern holds should pass it and allow both to move toward adjourment.

If they can do all this in less than 80 minutes, they will technically be done before midnight and technically be done on the 29th Day of the 30 Day session.

So that’s a small victory, unless one considers it was only supposed to last 7 days is another matter.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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