By SEN. BOB HASEGAWA
OLYMPIA (July 24, 2017) — I am saddened to report that the longest and least productive legislative year in the history of our state ended tonight the same way it began — crippled by polarization — to work on behalf of the needs of all Washingtonians across our state.
Nearly a month after the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan capital budget on a near-unanimous vote, Senate Republicans continued to refuse to bring it to a vote. They were holding it hostage to try to force the Legislature to pass a totally unrelated water rights bill to “fix” a Washington State Supreme Court decision known as the Hirst Decision, which stopped developers from infringing on the senior water rights of others.
Funding the capital budget has never been a partisan issue until this year, and shouldn’t be. The capital budget appropriates $4 billion to fund vital local construction projects across our state, in rural and urban communities, in red and blue communities, devoid of partisan brinkmanship — until this year.
Many of these projects are critical to our local infrastructure, provides thousands of jobs, and makes our communities strong. But when the Republican water rights bill negotiations stalled, Senate Republicans responded by blocking the entire capital budget — and the funding for housing, clean energy, behavioral health, environmental cleanup, community projects, natural resources, parks, $1.1 billion in school construction support, and 19,000 construction jobs these projects would have provided.
Included in the budget were funds for numerous important projects in the 11th District, including $3 million for the Sunset Neighborhood Park project in Renton, and $22 million for distressed schools in Seattle, where our students need sturdy classrooms, relief from overcrowding, and clean air.
The various losses to our district include:
- $7.5 million via the Department of Ecology for Floodplains by Design;
- $3.5 million in construction loans for the Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station;
- $3.05 million for Sunset Neighborhood Park in Renton;
- $698,000 for roof repairs to the Museum of Flight;
- $500,000 to develop the Lake to Sound Trail;
- $500,000 for Geriatric Diversion;
- $412,000 for the Sunset Career Center in Renton;
- $11 million for conservation projects; and
- $2.6 million for Community and Technical College projects
Similar losses will be suffered in every district in Washington, quashing critically important projects in local communities throughout the state
Our infrastructure and quality of life will deteriorate and all Washingtonians will share the pain to varying degrees. This was no way to end a legislative session, and no way to represent the interests of Washingtonians.
Bob Hasegawa is a Democratic member of the Washington State Senate, representing the 11th Legislative District. A former leader of the Teamsters union, he also serves as a Vice President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, representing the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. He is currently a candidate for Mayor of Seattle.