April 6, 2011 in City

Gov. Gregoire skeptical of Spokane medical school funding plan

By The Spokesman-Review

OLYMPIA – A House spending plan that includes $35 million to build a medical school in Spokane is “a problem” because it adds debt to the state, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday.

The House Capital Budget, released Monday, has millions more for construction projects than the budget Gregoire proposed in December; it gets extra money from bond sales through what she said she considers a gimmick. Instead of selling bonds only in the first year of the biennium, the state would sell them in both years.

“They have split up the capital budget over two years. That grows debt,” she said at a news conference. “That is a problem for me.”

Gregoire said she supports a Biomedical and Health Services Building at Riverpoint but couldn’t find room for it in her budget. If the Senate, which will produce its own capital budget in the next week or so, finds a way to pay for it without extra debt “I’m all for it,” she said.

The governor also was skeptical of a plan in the House general operating budget proposal to sell the state’s liquor distribution center to generate $300 million for programs. The Office of Financial Management will review the proposal.

“I don’t want to start with criticism of the House budget. I think they stepped up,” she said. “But it’s not an end (the session) budget. Some of it doesn’t work.”

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