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‘Jobs Now’ bill gains steam in Olympia with project lists

OLYMPIA (Jan. 26) — The legislative leaders sponsoring the Infrastructure Jobs Bond legislation on Wednesday released draft project lists identifying what capital construction work around the state could be funded through the legislation. Meanwhile, labor and business leaders gathered to renew the call to pass the bill and create these desperately needed jobs, as soon as possible.

“At a time when the construction trades are especially hard-hit, the capital investment proposals we are discussing in the Legislature will not only put people back to work, but also lay the foundation for economic growth in the long haul,” said Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor). “Whether it’s increased waste water capacity for a growing city or a new training facility at the local college, building these projects will get folks on the job immediately, and help move our economic recovery from ‘park’ into ‘drive’.”

Kilmer and Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish), who are leading the charge for legislation in their respective chambers, released draft project lists of what Dunshee calls the “Jobs Now” bill so the public can see how it would benefit local economies throughout the state in both the short and long terms. (See the Senate’s draft here, the House’s draft here, and the state agencies’ specific project lists here.)

“The House and Senate lists of construction projects are a little bit different, but those differences will be easy to bridge,” Dunshee said. “We stand united behind the goal of helping our state’s construction workers, veterans and small businesses get back on their feet, doing good work that will benefit our state for decades to come.”

“I appreciate how everyone is working together — business and labor, the House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats — to create jobs,” he added.

From left, WSLC President Jeff Johnson is joined by grocery worker Margaret Engel, WSBCTC's Dave Myers, the Rev. Steve Tallari, AGC's Rick Slunaker, contractor Todd Vacura, construction workers Jason Groll and Ben Maher, and teacher Melissa Carpenter at Wednesday's press briefing in Olympia.

Labor and business held a press briefing Wednesday to explain why they support issuing $2 billion in capital construction bonds — just as the state does for transportation projects — to be repaid by streams of money already dedicated to the capital budget, such as toxics taxes and public works trust funds. That money is earmarked for capital projects anyway.

The Washington State Labor Council, the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, the Associated General Contractors, and others described the unemployment crisis in communities around the state, where construction workers are experiencing 20% to 50% joblessness, depending on the trade and region of the state. The unprecedented coalition is urging action as quickly as possible to boost these struggling communities.

“Tens of thousands of jobs are within our grasp,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson. “The Infrastructure Jobs Bond is an opportunity for our leaders to be proactive in a time of crisis instead of just trying to mitigate the harm done by so many devastating cuts to social services and schools.”

“These jobs will become a reality right away for thousands of laid off constructions workers and returning veterans,” said Dave Myers, Executive Secretary of Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council. “The projects will also be targeted toward key sectors of economic development including construction of aerospace training facilities and college research facilities, both of which will spin off other economic development.”

“We are in total agreement with labor on the issue of job creation through this Infrastructure Jobs Bond bill,” AGC Government Affairs Director Rick Slunaker. “The work created won’t just be show jobs for the sake of putting people to work… these are projects we are supposed to be doing anyway, that are on to-do lists already.”

Publicola reports that environmental groups are also on board with the legislation.

“We support the proposal, and we like the approach because it’s a win-win for jobs and the environment,” said Washington Environmental Coalition lobbyist Cliff Traisman.

Here’s some of the local press coverage of Wednesday’s developments:

► From AP — Washington eyes stimulus plan to aid construction

► At Publicola — Dunshee, Kilmer announce specifics on jobs package

► In the Spokesman-Review — Spokane Medical School on lists for big projects

► In the Olympian — House GOP wants deregulation to go with jobs plan— If Democrats and moderate Republicans want extra help on a $1 billion jobs plan, House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt is naming his price: cooperation on bills that soften Washington’s state land-use rules and soften requirements for utilities to buy green power.

For more information, see Labor, business urge: FRONTLOAD JOBS! (Jan. 10, The STAND)

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