Senate leaders from the Democratic and Republican caucuses today announced their 2024 capital budget proposal. The state’s capital budget funds construction and maintenance of infrastructure and physical projects. This year’s budget proposal includes major funding increases in K-12 school construction, behavioral health facilities, affordable housing, and more.

Details and specific project lists for the $1.3 billion budget proposal are online here.

“This might only be a supplemental budget year, but this proposal steps up to the scale of the challenges facing Washington. On all the key issues before us, I think this budget will do a lot of good,” said Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), vice chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee for the capital budget. “I’m particularly passionate about the work we’re doing on school construction. The state won the lawsuit with the Wahkiakum School District, but that doesn’t diminish our responsibility to do more to help every kid in every school district have a safe, modern building where they can learn and succeed. This is a critical issue to me and I’m proud of what our budget does for students, teachers, and schools.”

“This capital budget is focused on significant funding increases in K-12 school construction, behavioral health facilities, and affordable housing,” said Sen. Yasmin Trudeau (D-Tacoma), one of the Senate’s capital budget negotiators. “It also includes important programs that would not be possible without the guidance and resources from the Climate Commitment Act. These are significant investments in addressing immediate needs of Washingtonians across the state. With this budget, we’re not just improving physical structures; we’re aiming to make real changes in people’s lives.”

“The Senate’s supplemental capital budget does a good job of addressing a variety of needs throughout Washington, and it provides funding for projects in several key areas, including K-12 and higher education, public safety, housing, water infrastructure, and more,” said 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville), the Republican leader on the Senate capital budget. “I applaud the Senate’s capital budget for taking a statewide approach.”

K-12 School Construction

With major school construction challenges facing many communities in rural areas and with low property values, this budget proposal takes strong steps forward to support school construction across Washington. The budget includes $121.5 million in total K-12 school construction, maintenance, and improvement funding for districts across Washington, especially in small and tribal school districts. It also creates a new funding bucket to support skills center facilities for career and technical education, with $60 million for this year and the opportunity to create continued and sustainable funding for them going forward.

The proposal also includes policy changes to help promote the passage of local bond measures, so local districts have a better opportunity to fund their own school construction. It has the state capital budget cover the cost of sales tax on school construction and materials, so that local districts can fund more construction with the money they do have, and it updates the School Construction Assistance Program’s square footage formulas to help ensure districts with lower property values get the most bang for their buck in state assistance.

Behavioral Health

The budget includes $44.5 million for the purchase and modernization of the Olympic Heritage Behavioral Health Hospital in Tukwila, which was purchased by the state in the summer of 2023 after its private operator suddenly shut it down.

It also includes $44.8 million for behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment facilities run by the state’s partners in tribal government, funding facilities for the Colville, Jamestown S’Klallam, Kalispel, Lummi, Quinault, and Suquamish tribes.

It has $12.49 million for other behavioral health community capacity grants, including $8.5 million for opioid addiction treatment facilities.

Affordable Housing

Washington’s affordable housing challenge is still large, and this proposal continues the historic progress the Legislature made last year. It has $119 million in total housing funding, including $111 million for the Housing Trust Fund.

Within the Housing Trust Fund, the budget includes $20 million for housing for people with developmental disabilities, $15 million for mobile homes, $10 million for tiny home villages, and other grant programs.

Other Projects

The budget includes funding for hundreds of other projects all across Washington. A few of them include:

  • $25 million to help the Quinault Indian Nation acquire privately-owned working forest land on its reservation.
  • $8.6 million for the Nisqually Indian Tribe for its electric grid, EV charging, and wastewater treatment, to help complete its energy sovereignty initiative.
  • $25 million to help Energy Northwest develop small modular nuclear reactor technology, which requires tribal consultation before moving forward.
  • $10 million for a digester at the WSU Knott Dairy — the creamery that produces Cougar Gold cheese — to help turn manure into clean energy.
  • $10 million to support the 2026 World Cup, which is expected to bring more than $100 million back in economic impact to Seattle area.
  • $1.5 million for the Garfield High School “superblock” in Seattle’s Central District.

The budget will be heard in the Senate Ways & Means Committee at 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 15. Members of the press and the public who wish to watch the hearing can do so on TVW. The House will present its capital budget proposal in the coming days, and the two chambers will meet and negotiate their differences to reach agreement on a final version before the end of session. The last day of the 2024 session is Thursday, March 7.