New construction budget builds classrooms and housing

Construction workers around Washington state will be busy after the passage of a new state capital budget to build classrooms, mental health facilities and affordable housing.

“This budget puts people to work from Aberdeen to Spokane, building a better Washington,” said Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Sequim), chair of the House Capital Budget Committee. “We also wrote the budget to tackle emergencies, including wildfires, the homeless crisis and our broken mental health system.”

The construction budget includes $34.5 million for K-3 class size reduction grants and $34.7 million for the School Construction Assistance Program.

The construction budget also funds:

  • $5.5 million for a pilot project to build classrooms with cross-laminated timber (CLT), an innovative new construction method that could create local jobs and make it profitable to thin forests, thus reducing the danger of wildfires.
  • $1.8 million in emergency disaster response.
  • Extensive funding to help the state’s mental health system, including $8.5 million for the Crisis Triage Center Grant Program; $7.5 million for Mental Health Supportive Housing; $7.9 million for critical repairs and upgrades at state mental health facilities and hospitals; and $5 million Community Behavioral Health Grant Program ($33m in underlying budget).
  • $70 million in student housing and other projects at state community and technical colleges.
  • $8 million in new funding for the Housing Trust Fund.
  • $2.5 million toward the Homeless Youth Grant Program, with an estimated 35,000 homeless students in our public schools, and $2.25 million for Supportive Housing and Emergency Shelters.

“The construction budget is how many local needs get met,” Tharinger said. “That includes community centers and vital infrastructure like dredging projects to keep rivers and harbors open to trade. These won’t make national news–but they mean the world to our small towns and neighborhoods.”

The House passed the compromise budget by a vote of 86-9. It’s expected to pass the Senate and go to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. For more information about the construction budget, visit the non-partisan LEAP website: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2016/hc2016p.asp

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