WSLC urges major transportation, capital budget investments to put our state back to work toward a more equitable future
OLYMPIA (Jan. 29, 2021) — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is delivering a message to the State Legislature: More than ever, the time is right for investment in our infrastructure. The state was already facing serious needs, but the crises created the COVID-19 recession, coupled with the Supreme Court’s culvert obligation, mean investment is urgent.
Importantly, public infrastructure investment supports equity—unions proactively recruit people of color and incorporate diversity requirements into project labor agreements. The Legislature should support contracting by women- and minority-owned businesses as part of infrastructure investments, including increasing accountability and transparency.
If we succeed, we’ll emerge from this recession stronger and more prosperous.
(Download the WSLC’s one-pager in support of building Washington’s infrastructure by approving robust transportation and capital budgets.)
A new transportation package will generate as much as $3.50 in economic activity for every $1 invested and create thousands of jobs. We will connect Washingtonians to jobs and businesses to markets. Our next transportation infrastructure investment will improve air quality and fight climate change.
We need a robust transportation package that invests in Washington.
● Prioritize preservation and maintenance projects to promote economic growth along with safety and resilience, including projects like the West Seattle Bridge, the Columbia River I-5 bridge, and more. Many such investments are shovel-ready, meaning they make can create needed jobs quickly. They also contribute to an overall freight mobility strategy that will support workers not just in construction, but in transportation, manufacturing, and beyond.
● Fund major projects including the US-2 Trestle and others. Incorporate mass transit access, HOV lanes, and more.
● Make a generational investment in mass transit that supports transit-dependent populations, improves air quality and mobility access, and combats climate change.
● Fully meet the state’s culvert obligations under Washington vs. United States.
● Expand support for vehicle electrification, with a focus on transit, truck and other fleets, and charging infrastructure, especially in areas most impacted by vehicle emissions.
Comprehensive funding sources that support infrastructure investments. Options include:
● A gas tax to fund critical preservation and maintenance priorities, new road projects, and fulfill the culvert obligation.
● Flexible sources to fund transit, other non-road projects, and vehicle electrification in a transportation package.
Protect existing fund sources. Provide new funding options for local government.
● It will be difficult enough to address existing funding shortfalls and unfilled needs without eliminating existing funding. The Legislature should not enact I-976, which passed with razor-thin margins and a misleading title.
● The Legislature should preserve existing local funding sources and increase flexibility for local government to serve their residents’ transportation needs through additional funding options.
Support equity through investments.
● Transportation investments built by union workers helps employ a diverse workforce. Unions provide family-sustaining, accessible careers with training for everyone, not just those that come from wealth or privilege.
● The Legislature should support contracting by women- and minority-owned businesses as part of investments to connect Washington, including increasing the accountability and transparency.
Now is the time to pass a historic Capital Budget that invests in schools, health care, mental health, housing and more. This is no time for an austerity budget. A larger-than-normal Capital Budget is warranted as Washington seeks to recover from the worst recession in a century. With bond rates an all-time low, we have the opportunity to make serious investments at lower cost for Washington taxpayers, in the process creating more jobs, supporting housing, health care, education and more.
Primary & Secondary Education
We must increase state capital investment in the School Construction Assistance Program (SCAP). The current funding formulas date back to 1979 and haven’t kept up with 40-plus years of changes in education. The result is a lopsided partnership between local governments and the state, with local governments carrying a disproportionate share of the burden. We support changes to the SCAP to support safe, healthy, and modern school buildings for all of our state’s students and educators.
Higher Education: Community and Technical Colleges
Our state community and technical colleges provide a critical service for Washington graduates, preparing them for new opportunities. We support the governor’s budget request level for these investments, including:
● Facility repairs and minor works: $121 million
● Wenatchee Valley, Wells Hall replacement: $34.5 million
● Pierce Fort Steilacoom, Cascade Building renovation, Phase 3: $31.6 million
● South Seattle, Automotive Technology Building renovation and expansion: $23.9 million
● Bates, Medical Mile Health Science Center: $40.8 million
The housing shortage in Washington has reached crisis levels, with housing affordability challenges pushing displacement, homelessness and more across the state.
We support a significant investment consistent with the level in the governor’s budget in the Housing Trust Fund to serve a wide range of vulnerable populations. This includes new affordable housing units, permanent supportive housing, and housing for homeless families, farmworkers, individuals with special needs, and more: $140 million.
Health & Mental Health
The Capital Budget should include robust funding for health and mental health, including investing in the following critical projects:
● Design and construct a 120-bed nursing facility at Fircrest: $120 million
● Construct a 16-bed, state-operated, living unit on the grounds of Maple Lane School for the treatment of 90- and 180-day civil commitments: $5 million
● Construct a 48-bed mixed use community civil treatment unit in Clark County: $13 million