OLYMPIA _ Finally, some good budget news out of Olympia.
The state Senate this morning proposed a $3.3 billion in construction spending over the next two years, including millions of dollars for local universities, community colleges and other projects.
“Today we introduce a happy budget,” said Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia.
It includes $493 million in state money for school construction and repairs, more than $1 billion for higher education facilities, and millions more for weatherization work, sewer and wastewater projects, and drinking water systems.
As with much state construction, the money would come from bonds, meaning the state will pay off the debt in future years.
“They’re long-term investments,” said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, who compared it to taking out a home-equity loan to pay for a new bathroom or new garage.
Plus, the projects will create jobs. All told, the budget means about 25,000 new or retained jobs, according to Fraser.
One irony of the budget is that while the state is adding classrooms and labs to colleges, it’s also proposing deep cuts in the same colleges’ operating budgets. That’s partly because the money comes from different sources: long-term debt for buildings and taxes for operating costs. But lawmakers said the plan also positions the colleges for a post-recession boom. As the economy improves, Brown said, schools will need those classrooms, labs and technological upgrades.
“We’re trying to build the economy of the future,” said Fraser.
Here’s are some of the llocal projects in the Senate plan:
-$28 million to renovate and expand Eastern Washington University’s Patterson Hall.
-$32 million for a new technical education building at Spokane Community College.
-$29 million for a new life sciences and chemistry building at Spokane Fall Community College.
-$39 million for a new electronics engineering building at WSU’s Vancouver campus.
-$7.4 million for WSU’s Biomedical Sciences facility in Pullman.
-$4.3 million for work on a WSU biomedical and health sciences building at Spokane’s Riverpoint campus.
-$144,000 to relocate a maintenance building and buy land at Mount Spokane State Park.
-$9.7 million to renovate Spokane Community Colleges’ Building 7.
-$13.8 million to renovate Music Building 15 at Spokane Falls Community College.
-$223,000 for an expansion in KSPS public broadcasting.
-$400,000 for the Emmanuel Family Life Center in Spokane.
-$79,000 for the Spokane Neighborhood Action Program for a Riverwalk Point community building.
-a total of $4.3 million ($3.5 million plus $800,000) for the YMCA/YWCA facility in central Spokane.
-$1 million for work on the Airway Heights Water Treatment Plant.
-$6.5 million for the Fish and Wildlife Department for a project on the west branch of the Little Spokane River.
-$40,000 for lighting at Colfax’s McDonald Park.
-$7,000 for “aquisition and development” of land for Liberty Lake’s Rocky Hill Park.
-$198,000 for a Centennial Trail realignment at Gateway Park.
-$500,000 to restore historic features of Spokane’s county courthouse.
-$350,000 to replace elevators in Spokane’s Masonic Temple building.
NOTE: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect figure for Mount Spokane State Park’s allocation. Sorry about that. RR