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Capital budget means good jobs

Costly hostage crisis finally ends


The following story appears in the Washington State Labor Council’s 2018 Legislative Report (HTML or PDF) published in May.

As legislators convened in January, $4.3 billion in job-creating public infrastructure projects had been held hostage by Senate Republicans for nearly a year over an unrelated water-rights issue.

This unprecedented injection of partisan politics into last year’s capital budget approval meant that badly needed school construction, sewer improvements and other projects in communities across the state had been suspended, their costs increased, and thousands of jobs were not created.

With Democrats gaining control of the Senate, their party leaders in both houses vowed to move quickly to end this hostage crisis and pass the capital budget, which was one of the highest priorities of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO in 2018.

That is exactly what happened. Within the first few weeks of the session, negotiators reached a compromise on the water-rights issue and approved the 2017-18 capital budget in January. But legislators weren’t done yet. In the session’s final days, a $414 million supplemental capital construction budget was approved and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee to enhance those earlier investments.

The WSLC is thankful that Democratic control of the Senate broke the logjam and allowed a fair vote on a capital budget that everyone from both parties supported. In particular, we thank Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) and Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Sequim), who took the lead in writing their caucuses’ capital budgets, and Rep. Pat Sullivan (D-Covington) who worked diligently to resolve the water-rights issue.

We are hopeful that this unprecedented and costly hijacking of our state’s construction budget doesn’t happen again in future years.

Click here to see more reports from the Washington State Labor Council’s 2018 Legislative Report. Or download the entire 8-page PDF.

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