Members of the Washington State Legislature approved the state’s 2011-13 biennial capital budget late last Wednesday. Sen. Joe Fain, who represents the 47th Legislative District, which includes parts of Auburn, Renton, Kent, and Covington, said he was pleased to advocate for the projects funded by the legislation.
Passage of the capital budget was caught up in negotiations over legislation that would cap the state’s debt limit.
“It was touch and go for a while there,” said Fain, who supported the debt cap. “We have to end the boom-and-bust cycle of government funding. When times are tough and the construction industry is in decline, that’s when government needs to have resources ready to invest in infrastructure.”
The Legislature approved a 7 percent debt cap in the waning hours of the special session, paving the way for the capital budget’s adoption.
Auburn-area projects that will receive state funding include:
- Green River Gorge & Icy Creek Trail ($540,828)
Controversy arose when some in the Legislature sought to break with the recommendations of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. Fain was joined by Redmond Sen. Andy Hill and Mercer Island Sen. Steve Litzow in advocating for continued support of the WWRP process, ensuring funds for the Icy Creek Trail project.
- Green River Community College
Green River’s Science, Math and Technology building will also benefit in the 2011 capital budget.
“This aging facility is close to 40 years old and lacks many of the safety and instructional amenities students should expect,” said Fain.
- ‘M’ Street Southeast
The city of Auburn will also receive $6.8 million from the state to continue the grade separation project along ‘M’ Street and the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe railway near Highway 18.
“Transportation infrastructure is the key to our local economy,” said Fain. “Separating rail from car and pedestrian traffic will not only improve safety, but continues investments in freight mobility that aid our local manufacturing and warehousing companies.”
- Levee Funding
The Green River Valley cities had joined forces in advocating for funds to shore up failing levees along the Green River. The state budget included an addition $4 million for capital construction, which is a necessary step in ensuring the safety of area homes and businesses. Fain has been fighting for that funding since his first day in office earlier this year.
“I used my first floor speech in the Senate chamber to urge my fellow legislators to preserve funding for the King County Flood Control District,” Fain said. “With passage of that bill and the funding provided by the capital budget, valley residents will be better protected while businesses can have greater confidence investing in the Kent valley.”
Fain joined forces with fellow Sens. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, and Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, in advocating for levee construction dollars. Their partnership built regional consensus for the project that Fain says helped persuade capital budget writers.
“With thousands of homes and businesses located in the valley, and billions in economic activity generated here, there is no higher regional priority than protecting our community from flooding,” said Fain.
The city of Covington will receive $500,000 in state funding to build its long-envisioned community park so area youth sports teams can play locally instead of traveling to other cities.
“Both Representative Pat Sullivan and Covington Parks Director Scott Thomas deserve a big thank-you for their work to secure state and federal funding for the park project,” said Fain. “Scott was a tireless voice for this project in Olympia.”
Controversy arose when some in the Legislature sought to break with the recommendations of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. Fain advocated for continued support of the WWRP process, ensuring funds for the community park.
The budget also includes $10 million for the Covington Water District’s new Green River Filtration Treatment Plant. The plant is expected to cost about $200 million and is a partnership between the Lakehaven and Covington water districts, and the cities of Kent and Tacoma.
“These funds will help kick-start phase one,” Fain said. “The plant should be completed by 2014, after which Covington residents can expect a continuous supply of clean drinking water for decades to come.”