Funding for United Learning Center in Centralia included in supplemental budget proposal


Nearly $2 million for the Boys & Girls Club of Lewis County's United Learning Center was included in a $1.27 billion supplemental capital budget proposal released Monday morning.

In an announcement, state Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, a lead negotiator on the capital budget, said the plan invests in K-12 school construction, mental health facilities, housing and early learning facilities.

"This community-up, not Olympia-down, budget proposal would make quality investments throughout the state," Abbarno said in a statement. "I appreciate all the hard work, from both sides of the aisle, on reaching an agreement that would help educate our kids, improve the delivery of behavioral health services, substance abuse treatment, unsheltered support and maintain critical infrastructure."

When completed, the 12,800-square-foot United Learning Center will be built on the corner of Maple and North Pearl streets in Centralia.

In September 2021, the Bezos Academy signed a 10-year lease with United Way of Lewis County to operate a preschool for students from low-income families at the educational facility, according to previous Chronicle reporting.

Since a ceremonial groundbreaking in June 2021, the lot has sat vacant. As of Monday, the Lewis County United Way’s information website says the facility would open in fall 2023.

Other local projects in the budget include $4.9 million for a Cowlitz County and Cowlitz PUD landfill methane capture project, $2.8 million for infrastructure improvements at Green Hill School, $1.15 million for the Cascadia Tech Natural Resources Learning Center in Kalama and $206,000 for the Southwest Washington Fair and Equestrian Center to design a new covered equestrian center and barns.

"While the final budget may differ from this proposal, I look forward to working with my colleagues across the rotunda to deliver positive results for our state and district," Abbarno said.

Across the state, the proposal would make investments in K-12 school construction, including $162 million for the Small District and Tribal Compact Schools Modernization program, $162 million for the Small District and Tribal Compact Schools Modernization program, $18.5 million for the School District Health and Safety program and $13.5 million for Career and Technical Education projects.

The proposal also includes $50 million for the Early Learning Facilities grant program and an additional $44.2 million for local projects.

The budget would also allocate $1 million to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop a replacement formula for the School Construction Assistance Program.

For behavioral health, the proposal includes $83.7 million for community behavioral health projects and $44.5 million for the Olympic Heritage Behavioral Health facility in Tukwila.

The proposal includes $149 million for electric vehicle charging and renewable energy infrastructure in the state, $25 million for Energy Northwest to leverage federal funding and $13.3 million for local emission reduction projects.

The proposal also features environmental investments, including $22.2 million to the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board, $11.1 million to the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program and $8 million for the Washington Coastal Restoration and Resiliency Initiative program.

While Democrats hold the majority in both the House and Senate, about 8% of the proposal is funded through capital bonds, which require a 60% supermajority of legislators.

"Our state constitution's high vote threshold for bonds makes the capital budget a uniquely bipartisan project," Abbarno said in a statement. "Democrats need Republicans and Republicans need Democrats. At the end of the day, Washington ends up with a better, more geographically equitable result."

The House Capital Budget Committee will hold a public hearing for the proposal on Tuesday at 8 a.m.