OLYMPIA – The state House gave a strong bipartisan send-off to a $3 billion state construction budget on Monday, setting up a final round of negotiations with the Senate and governor.
The plan includes a rich matching program for school construction, as well as a new prison, university buildings – including WSU Riverpoint in Spokane – parks, and “pork” projects.
Negotiators should be able to agree on a compromise in a few days, said Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, chairman of the House construction budget panel. The big-picture compromise is for the House to accept the Senate’s position on public financing of a new prison in Franklin County, and for the Senate to adopt the House’s big emphasis on K-12 construction.
Both positions require higher spending in those areas, so lawmakers will trim spending elsewhere.
Unlike the deep partisan rift over the state operating budget, which will require a half-billion-dollar revenue package to finance, the separate construction budget went flying out of the House on a 92-5 vote.
The Senate passed its somewhat larger construction budget earlier this month by an equally lopsided 45-2.
Rep. Fred Jarrett, R-Mercer Island, the ranking Republican on Dunshee’s committee, led a losing fight Monday to restore the $45 million life sciences building at the Washington State University main campus in Pullman, which was put on hold. Dunshee conceded that both the projects were given planning funds in the last budget, but said lawmakers now can’t afford to proceed with both at once. The WSU project is being delayed, not canceled, he said.
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