Tri-City projects and construction are halted without a capital budget

Tri-City projects and construction are halted without a capital budget

TRI-CITIES, Wash. – The legislature failed to pass a capital budget because of a dispute over rural water rights issues. Without a capital budget, local governments, schools and organizations who depend on money from the state are now in limbo.

The legislature's failure to pass the capital budget has put hundreds of projects in jeopardy, including improvements for schools, water quality, mental health and other facilities across Washington.

Action News spoke to city officials, educators and legislators to see how this impacts people and building projects in our area.

"If the state does not provide those low-interest loans we'd have to look at alternatives to funding those programs," said Kennewick Spokesperson Evelyn Lusignan.

Lusignan said the city has two projects they hope to get state funds for, including an automatic meter reading system for their water meters, and improvements to the interchange at Highway 395 and Ridgeline Drive.

"It’s not just us, it's other regions that are really dependent on having these funds available to move forward with their projects as well," Lusignan said. "It’s really important for the health of the whole state to be able to fund infrastructure."

There's an even longer list of halted projects in our area, including the Tri-Cities Readiness Center and the Goodwill Job Training and Resource Center. The full list is at the bottom of this web story.

Some groups can't move forward at all. WSU Tri-Cities spokesperson said they fully rely on state funding. They wanted to break ground on a new academic building this year, but will have to wait until a budget passes.

Other groups are having to get creative in order to pay for their construction projects , like the Richland School District. According to Richland Superintendent Rick Schulte, they received a letter from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction:

“[It told] us that even though Jefferson was approved for about $9.7 million in state construction matching funds, we will not receive those funds until the legislature passes a state capital budget."

Luckily, he said the district sold $69 million in bonds so they'll be using that cash to continue construction, hoping to be reimbursed when legislators get a budget through.

However, gridlock in congress over water rights issues has brought the capital budget to its knees. Rep. Steve Tharinger, of the capital budget committee, said moving forward without a budget will cost taxpayers more money.

"In some ways it's kind of a self-inflicted wound, we don't have to have this linkage," Tharinger said. "All of us in the legislature want to find a solution to the water issue, but we need to move forward on the capital budget first."

Tharinger said he hopes legislators can separate the budget from the water rights issue to get the budget passed as quickly as possible.

A statement from Governor Jay Inslee's Office explained that the governor was clearly disappointed with the legislators adjourned without passing a capital budget.

"The governor knows that a capital budget is a critical part of our state’s economy, supporting more than 19,000 private and public sector jobs," Media Manager Chase Gallagher said.

The governor also said that when legislators reach an agreement, he’d call them back to session so we could get the budget passed as soon as possible. Delaying the capital budget means higher costs to the taxpayers, as projects may have to go out for re-bids, and puts schedules for school facilities in jeopardy.

“There's no reason to delay the capital budget any further," Gallagher added. "Having passed the House nearly unanimously, we're just a Senate vote away from a bi-partisan $4.2 billion investment in the future of Washington state."

Gov. Inslee is visiting Yakima on Wednesday to talk about the urgent need for a state construction budget. He will tour East Valley High School, which is still waiting for he more than $17 million already awarded by the state capital budget for renovations at the aging school.

"So it's really important that those dollars that have been committed to are provided to the communities who need them," Lusignan said.

8th Legislative District

Department of Commerce

2018 Local and Community Projects

  • LIGO STEM Exploration Center (Richland)

Dental Clinic Capacity Grants

  • Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (Kennewick) 08

Public Works Assistance Account Construction Loans

  • Kennewick Automated Meter Reading Project (Kennewick)
  • US 395/Ridgeline Interchange (Kennewick)

Military Department

  • Tri-Cities Readiness Center - Land

Department of Social and Health Services

  • Statewide-RA Community Facilities: Safety & Security Improvements

Public Schools

  • Tri-Tech Skill Center - Core Growth

Washington State University

  • WSU Tri-Cities - Academic Building

State Conservation Commission

  • Natural Resource Investment for the Economy & Environment 2017-19

16th Legislative District

Department of Commerce

2017-19 Building for the Arts Grant Program #

  • Power House Theatre Walla Walla Acquisition

2018 Local and Community Projects

  • College Place Well Consolidation and Replacement (College Place)
  • Goodwill Job Training & Resource Center (Pasco)
  • Save the Old Tower (Pasco)
  • Whitehouse Additional Capital Campaign (Pasco)

Early Learning Facility Grants

  • Pasco Early Learning Center

Public Works Assistance Account Construction Loans

  • Isaacs Avenue Improvements - Phase 2 (Walla Walla)
  • Sudbury Landfill Area 7 Cell 3 Construction (Walla Walla)

Military Department

  • Minor Works Preservation 2017-19 Biennium
  • Minor Works Program 2017-19 Biennium

Department of Corrections

  • Minor Works - Preservation Projects
  • WSP: Program and Support Building

Washington State Historical Society

Heritage Capital Grants Projects

  • Kirkman House Museum
  • Princess Theater & the Green Room at the Princess Rehabilitation

Department of Ecology

2015-17 RESTORED Eastern Washington Clean Sites Initiative

  • Schwerin Concaves

Washington Pollution Liability Insurance Program

Leaking Tank Model Remedies

  • Old Milton Svc. Station

State Conservation Commission

  • CREP PIP Loan Program 2017-19
  • CREP Riparian Contract Funding 2017-19
  • CREP Riparian Cost Share - State Match 2017-19
  • Natural Resource Investment for the Economy & Environment 2017-19

Department of Fish and Wildlife

  • Wooten Wildlife Area Improve Flood Plain

Community & Technical College System

  • Facility Repairs
  • Minor Works - Preservation
  • Minor Works - Program
  • Roof Repairs
  • Site Repairs
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