OLYMPIA – Eastern Washington University is on track to get at least $60 million for a new science building under spending plans for major state construction projects moving through both legislative chambers.
The new Interdisciplinary Science Center would help the university keep up with a 33 percent growth in students seeking degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields over the past five years, said David Buri, a spokesman for the university.
The House capital budget, released Wednesday, has set aside $67 million for the science center, the amount EWU officials had requested and Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget recommended. The Senate capital budget, released last week, has $60 million for the building, reflecting a reduction of about 10 percent on some project requests.
“We’re working to get that up to $67 million,” Buri said. Originally, the university had been scheduled for two science buildings at about $55 million each. In that sense, combining four science disciplines – biology, chemistry/biochemistry, geology and physics – into a single building represents a savings, he said.
Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, a member of the House Capital Budget Committee, said the final amount for the science center and many other projects is subject to negotiations as the two chambers reconcile the two spending plans into a single bill that can pass both houses and get Inslee’s signature.
The House budget lists spending of $3.98 billion, while the slightly smaller Senate budget totals $3.82 billion. But on some Spokane-area projects, they match. Both set aside:
- $24 million for renovation of the South Wing of the Spokane Community College Building.
- $6.2 million for infrastructure improvements at Lakeland Village.
- $1 million for access to the Spokane River at Three Islands.
- $540,00 for Appleway Trail in the Spokane Valley.
- $816,000 for the HUB Sports Center in Liberty Lake.
Both budgets also have $2 million for a Dental Residency Clinic program, which Riccelli said is part of major expansion in dental health efforts in the state that would total about $13.8 million. In Spokane, it will involve a residency program with Providence Health Care, with residents working out of the emergency department at Sacred Heart Medical Center or a new clinic near Holy Family Hospital. It will also help provide dental services for medically fragile people.
The Spokane residency program would treat an estimated 12,000 patients a year, most of them people who are eligible for Medicaid, he said.
“The need for dental access in my district, our community and our state is very high,” said Riccelli, who represents central Spokane’s 3rd District.
The two budgets do have some differences for the Spokane area. The Senate bill proposes $262,000 for a new roof for the state Court of Appeals building near Kendall Yards, and $100,000 for the Honor Point Museum; those aren’t in the House proposal.
The House capital budget has $750,000 for a dental clinic at the East Central Community Center, $515,000 for the Airway Heights Recreational Complex and $155,000 for the Emmanuel Life Center Kitchen. None appears in the Senate plan.
The final capital budget usually is among the last pieces of legislation negotiated and passed before the Legislature adjourns. Riccelli said he would be working to have as many of the Spokane-area projects that only appear in one bill in that final budget.
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