OLYMPIA – Thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in local projects across the state are at risk if the Washington State Legislature adjourns without adoption of a state capital budget.
“It is irresponsible to adjourn this legislative session without a capital budget,” said Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue. “The capital budget not only funds critical infrastructure investments across our state, it provides thousands of good-paying family wage jobs. Without the budget, there is no way to continue projects already in progress, or begin those planned for the near future. Our communities depend on these funds.”
For the 48th Legislative District, those who are in need of affordable housing or other human services will not have access to the services they need. Without a capital budget local and community projects like the Coordinated & Safe Services Center in Redmond will not be developed, and Youth Eastside Services will not receive funding for their programs. Low-income families at Highland Village will not receive $1.5 million from the Housing Trust Fund. Cultural programs will also fail to receive funding, preventing the replacement of the Pacific Northwest Ballet School at the Francis Russell Center.
For months, Republicans in the Senate have insisted on a fix to a Washington State Supreme Court case dealing with water rights, also known as the “Hirst” decision. Senate Republicans refuse to bring the capital budget to a vote without adoption of their solution to the Hirst decision.
“Let’s be honest, there is no connection between a Hirst solution and the capital budget other than political leverage,” said Kuderer. “Democrats in both the House and the Senate have offered reasonable, acceptable compromises so that we can take the necessary time and create a permanent solution to Hirst that doesn’t automatically end up back in the courts.”
As a compromise, Democrats in the Senate and the House have proposed a 24-month period allowing people with building permits already in place to build their homes in rural areas. The legislature would then be able to work on a thoughtful solution to the issue that is agreeable to all involved interests.
“Water and riparian law is very old, complex, and involves many levels of law including sovereign treaties with tribes,” said Kuderer. “Rushing into a solution at the 11th hour on the last day of the third special session would not benefit people living in rural areas or our environment that depends on water for survival. It’s important to take the time needed to do this right.”
The 2017 Legislative Session began on January 9 and has continued through special sessions since then. It would be possible for the legislature to convene again in another session if negotiations proved successful.