State. Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, said a capital budget plan released by the House of Representatives Thursday prioritizes education and mental health care while providing for key infrastructure projects across the state.
DeBolt, the ranking minority member for the Capital Budget Committee, helped design the budget, which was described in a press release as a bipartisan proposal.
“Not all budgets are created equal. Not all government spending is either,” DeBolt said. “We produced a plan that boosts education and builds a stronger mental health care net. These targeted investments will help our communities for generations to come.”
The plan includes $4.15 billion in total spending, with over $1 billion allocated for school construction costs. The proposal would leave $100 million for next year’s supplemental budget, and appropriates $2.47 billion in bonds.
According to the press release, the capital budget plan prioritizes education with over $1 billion allocated for the School Construction Assistance Program. That’s an increase of nearly $450 million from the previous biennium. The funding would address the record number of voter approved bonds passed for new school construction and remodeling, according to DeBolt.
An additional $15 million would also be provided for modernization grants for small, rural school districts. Other education investments include $802 million in appropriations for higher education facilities.
With psychiatric wards consistently over capacity, the proposed budget allocates $120 million for community-based and institution-based funding for construction projects including:
“We took a deep dive into the growing needs of the mental health care system,” DeBolt said. “Community based facilities would allow for better treatment for patients and gives hospitals more flexibility for their care.”
The plan also includes $106 million for the Housing Trust Fund with nearly $25 million allocated for supportive housing and case management services for people suffering from chronic mental illness. Another $5 million is set aside for housing projects for people affected by natural disasters. Veteran housing would be given $5.6 million.
Other highlights include public works investments. A total of $226 million has been allocated for:
• $97.1 million for the currently authorized public works loan list.
• $105 million for newly authorized loans and grants pursuant to House Bill 1677.
• $19 million for preconstruction and emergency loans.
• $5 million for drinking water consolidation grants.