After passing 92-1 in the House, the state’s 2017–19 capital budget is being blocked from a vote by Senate Republicans who have said they’re holding the bill hostage, putting school construction and public works projects across the state in jeopardy.
Gov. Jay Inslee called on the Senate to pass the two-year construction budget, calling it the “one big job left” for legislators this year:
The $4.2 billion construction budget would invest in more than 1,400 projects across Washington, from ensuring safe drinking water to infrastructure repairs at prisons, as well as 75 school construction projects. The capital budget supports more than 19,000 jobs.
“There is one big job left for this legislature, and we can't let the people of Washington state down," Inslee said. "Every county in Washington is counting on this budget. It’s time to put communities ahead of politics.”
Despite the near-unanimous approval in the House on June 30, Senate Republicans have refused to vote on the two-year capital budget. They said in media reports they are “holding” the budget as “leverage” over a bill to overturn a state Supreme Court decision on water rights.
Blocking the capital budget prevents funding that communities across Washington depend on for grants, construction projects, school improvements and more. Funding for water infrastructure, college facility repairs and pollution control are on hold while Senate Republicans block it.
“Senate Republicans are playing politics with this budget that creates jobs, improves safety in schools and keeps our economy moving forward,” Inslee said.
Among the $4.2 billion investments being blocked by the Senate Republicans:
- More than $1.4 billion in school construction
- $3.5 million for the Yakima YMCA/Aquatic Center
- $35 million for the Professional – Technical Education Center at Big Bend Community College
- $60 million for the Eastern Washington University Interdisciplinary Science Center