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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Spokane Med School on lists for big projects

OLYMPIA -- The Riverpoint Biomedical and Health Sciences Building, a.k.a. the Spokane Med School building, is on lists in the House and Senate for big projects the state would do if the Legislature passes a major bond package.

The school is slated for $35 million on the House list of bonding projects released this morning by Rep. Hans Dunshee, the chairman of that chamber's Capital Budget Committee. A copy of the Senate list isn't as detailed, but the school is included in the $96 million that would go to four-year universities, a source confirmed.

Last year, the school got $35 million in the Capital Budget, which was enough for the first half of construction. Finishing the construction was the top priority for a group of Spokane area business and government leaders who lobbied legislators last week.

Being on both lists makes it more likely the med school would get the money if the bond program comes together. But there's a rub: This is not the standard Capital Budget supported by the General Fund. It's an attempt to pay for more projects by dipping into a series of special funds to sell bonds.

A coalition of unions, construction companies who employ union workers, church groups and progressive groups are pushing for a bond issue that will "jump start" the economy with more construction jobs to replace crumbling roads, bridges and water projects. But they want some $2 billion in projects, more than twice the amount in either the House or Senate proposals at this time.

Republican leaders, meanwhile, are cool to the idea of drawing down various funds for these bonds: We have a Capital Budget for infrastructure. They spent all their budget last year," House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, said.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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