Rep. Norma Smith comments on House capital budget proposal

The Washington State House of Representatives today released its proposal for the two-year capital budget. Capital Budget Committee member Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, had this to say about it:

“I am a supporter of our capital budget because, in the past, it has ensured we take care of and update our state’s critical infrastructure, like schools, water systems and higher education facilities. While there are some great projects in the budget released today, I have serious concerns about budget writers diverting the balances of a number of capital budget accounts, totaling $780 million, to the state operating budget.

“The capital budget provides dollars for the construction of hospitals, sewage and water systems, and our schools in communities statewide. The budgeting scheme put forward today would take from several of the dedicated accounts in the capital budget, including $368 million from the Public Works Assistance Account. Taking these dollars away from viable projects that would create jobs is unwise in this economy.

“Raiding this budget to fill gaps in the state operating budget is shortsighted and sets a dangerous financial precedent. Projects were promised to fee-payers and taxpayers who funded this budget’s accounts, and those commitments should be kept.

“This budget also proposes to spend tens of millions of dollars to purchase more state land. While I appreciate our excellent environmental stewardship, at a time when we cannot afford to maintain the parks we have, we need a serious review of the land acquisitions¬† in this proposal. Let’s take care of the parks and land we have now so our families can use and enjoy them, and prevent the economic consequences to our local communities if they are closed.

“This proposal to raise the bonding authority would increase the dollars in the capital budget, while having the same effect as raising a credit limit.

“We simply cannot afford to continue shifting money around in ways that are not sustainable or productive. By taking these one-time monies dedicated to certain capital projects and using the money to pay for ongoing state operating costs and programs, we set our state up for the same budget problems we face now, only larger, in the next budget.

“My hope is House and Senate leaders will restructure the capital budget to ensure the funds are used to create jobs through building schools, upgrading critical local infrastructure and maintaining our parks.”

Of the $780 million in capital projects accounts emptied into the state operating budget, here are some of the largest:

  • Public Works Assistance Account/Trust Fund: $368 million
  • School Construction Account/Lottery: $182.4 million
  • Local Toxics Account: $69.5 million
  • Water Quality Account: $28.6 million
  • Community & Technical College Construction Account: $18.5 million

 

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov