The Washington Legislature approved the state capital budget Jan. 18, an action that will release more than $7.75 million for projects on the Key Peninsula. The budget will provide $6.5 million to Minter Creek Hatchery for intakes, $515,000 for The Mustard Seed Project’s senior housing project in Key Center, $428,000 for sewer improvements at Penrose State Park, $248,000 to help upgrade and repair the Longbranch Marina, and $60,000 for an emergency generator at the Key Peninsula Civic Center.
Clark Van Bogart (below), president of the Longbranch Improvement Club, said, “We are ecstatic about the funding. It will jump-start the environmental and public-safety upgrades that the LIC and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources agreed need to be done in the next several years. This money will accelerate these improvements by at least eight years.”
Edie Morgan, executive director of The Mustard Seed Project, said, “We’re thrilled beyond belief. This gives our capital campaign a huge boost forward. And we are very grateful to Rep. Caldier (R-Port Orchard) and Sen. Angel (R-Gig Harbor) for shepherding our request through the process.”
The state has two budgets that require approval every two years. The operating budget assures that the government has money to provide services and education. That $44 billion budget passed last summer.
The capital budget, about $4 billion, includes funding for such things as state office buildings, colleges and universities, prisons and juvenile rehabilitation facilities, parks and recreational facilities, K-12 schools, affordable housing for low-income persons and people with special needs, water quality, water supply, flood risk-reduction infrastructure, and other facilities and programs.
To be included in the capital budget, an organization applies to both the state Senate and House, with the local representative or senator serving as a sponsor. If the request is included in recommendations, it is likely to be funded. Both Caldier and Angel helped sponsor the funding requests from the Key Peninsula.
The House approved the capital budget last summer. Senate Republicans, concerned about water rights for landowners in rural counties after the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision, refused to approve the budget until a legislative solution addressed the impact of the court’s ruling.
Projects depending on capital budget funding were in limbo until the budget passed. When the Legislature reconvened in January, organizations waiting for funding were not sure that the budget would pass. When Democrat Manka Dhingra won the special election in the 45th Legislative District to fill the seat of Republican Andy Hill, who had died of cancer, the Senate became majority Democrat. This provided the 51 votes necessary to approve the capital budget. But to provide the funding to pay for the capital budget required Republican support to meet the necessary 60 votes. A legislative solution was still necessary.
Senate Bill 6091, which passed 35-14 in the Senate and 66-30 in the House, provided that solution, allowing landowners in rural areas to tap household wells—known as permit-exempt wells—while local committees work to develop plans for future water use. Those plans must outline how to offset potential impacts to rivers and streams from those wells. Once SB 6091 passed, the capital budget was approved. Gov. Jay Inslee signed both the following day.