State Senate proposes $7.9 billion capital budget

OLYMPIA — State Senate budget writers have released a capital construction budget proposal that would authorize $7.9 billion in spending.

Of that amount, $4.7 billion is debt limit bonds for the 2023-25 biennium. The remaining amounts are $798 million in federal funds, $325 million in Model Toxic Control Accounts, $319 million in Climate Commitment Accounts, $265 million in alternate financing authorizations and $1.5 billion in all other funds.

The Proposed Substitute Senate Bill 5200 (PSSB 5200) was to be considered in an executive session in the Senate Ways and Means Committee at 5 p.m. Wednesday, with the full Senate expected to vote on the proposal by Friday.

Under the proposal released Monday, major investments would be made in affordable housing, behavioral health, education and natural resources projects.

• Affordable housing projects would receive $625 million, including $400 million for grants and loans through the Housing Trust Fund.

Gov. Jay Inslee — who, in December, had proposed a referendum that would allow legislators to front-load $4 billion of housing construction over the next six years — released a statement saying the proposals don’t go far enough.

“The Senate’s capital budget proposal would take us backwards on housing,” Inslee said.

“It’s less than what we approved last biennium. In the middle of a housing crisis, less is unacceptable. We need to go big, so people can go home.”

Senate leaders said the proposed budget “stays within the state’s constitutional debt limit,” according to The Olympian.

• Behavioral health would receive $860 million, including $650 million to the Department of Social and Health Services for construction of a new 350-bed forensic hospital at Western State Hospital as well as $20.1 million to increase bed capacity to address bed shortages at Western and $141 million for competitive grants and individual projects that create new community behavioral health capacity.

• Public K-12 education would be allocated $894 million, including $588 million in state matching grants for the School Construction Assistance Program.

Higher education facilities would get $1.2 billion.

• Natural resources projects would be allocated $2.3 billion. Among the proposals are $44 million for Duckabush estuary restoration and $95 million for the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

House budget leaders are expected to release their capital budget proposal sometime next week. After that, Senate and House leaders must come to an agreement on a capital budget before the last day of the legislative session, which is April 23.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at lleach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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