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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 60-day legislative session concluded last Thursday, March 10. Whether virtually, or in-person during the last few weeks of the session, I've spent the last two months fighting for the priorities and values of our region.

2022-23 Supplemental Capital Budget

As the ranking member of the House Capital Budget Committee and its primary Republican negotiator, it's my job to develop a capital budget that benefits all of Washington state, rural and urban alike. Unlike other state spending plans, the capital budget is truly bipartisan — proving that legislators from across the political spectrum can come to a consensus.

Even more importantly, the capital budget puts people to work. By investing in the construction of public buildings, schools, mental health facilities, low-income housing, infrastructure, and other projects in local communities across the state, we can rebuild our economy in the pandemic's aftermath.

This year's capital budget is historic. In a supplemental budget year, normally intended to make minor adjustments based on feedback from communities and local governments across the state, we've produced a spending plan bigger than the previous two-year capital budget approved in 2021.

The 2022-23 supplemental capital budget spends $1.5 billion, with $107.3 million from the sale of general obligation bonds. The remaining $1.39 billion is comprised of a combination of federal funds, General Fund-State (GF-S) transfers, and other dedicated funding sources. It leaves $210,000 in bond capacity.

Significant statewide investments were made in mental and behavioral health, housing, infrastructure, broadband, and school seismic safety. In fact, as you can see in the chart below, year-over-year, mental health investments continue to be a priority for our state.

12th District Capital Budget Projects

I've seen firsthand how important it is for taxpayer dollars to come back to our local communities. That's why it's incredibly gratifying to announce $10.5 million in 12th District projects is included in the recently approved capital budget.

Highlights include:

  • Trades District port project: $3 million
  • Peshastin Cross Over Siphon Pipe (Peshastin): $309,000
  • Wenatchee City Pool Repairs (Wenatchee): $550,000
  • Wenatchee Valley YMCA (Wenatchee): $515,000
  • Chelan Douglas Food Distribution Center (Malaga): $1 million
  • City of Brewster Canyon Well House (Brewster): $480,000
  • City of Brewster Sewer Upgrade (Brewster): $2.8 million
  • Lake Chelan EMS Design (Chelan): $191,000
  • Town of Elmer City Fire Station Improvements (Elmer City): $772,000
  • SD Brewster School District: $933,000

Read the summary and budget bill here: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2022/hc2022Supp.asp
Review district project reports here: http://fiscal.wa.gov/CapitalProjectListDistrictSupp.aspx

2022 Transportation Package

Senate Bills 5974 and 5975 are related to the majority party's “Move Ahead Washington” transportation proposal. Both bills passed the House despite a lengthy floor debate.

Here's why I voted “no” on the 16-year, $17 billion dollar transportation package. Originally, the plan stirred up quite a bit of controversy because it contained a six-cent-per-gallon tax on exported fuel. That very unpopular component was later removed. Unfortunately, they traded one bad idea for another by removing the export fuel tax and replacing it with a more than $100 million transfer from the state's Public Works Assistance Account.

That's a really bad idea. The revolving Public Works account provides low- and no-interest loans to cities and counties to pay for infrastructure vital to public health and safety. It helps fund local projects such as water, sewer, and broadband, so communities can build housing and create economic opportunities.

Raiding this funding shifts the costs of the transportation package to local communities. This will decrease economic opportunities and increase fees and rates on services like water and utilities, among others.

Republicans offered several options, but none of them were considered. You can read more about our proposals here.

Preventing Scholarship Displacement

Scholarship displacement occurs when the student recipient of a private scholarship has other forms of their financial aid package, such as college grants, reduced. This practice is unfair to both students and scholarship providers alike because it eliminates the financial benefit of earning a private scholarship.

Private scholarships are awarded by foundations, corporations, philanthropists, and other private organizations. After receiving such an award, its common practice for colleges to reduce financial aid by the equivalent or percentage of money received through the scholarship. Students are penalized for their hard work and scholarship providers seeking to reduce the debt and burden of college tuition are left wondering if their dollars are really helping.

That's why I sponsored House Bill 1907, which requires the Washington Student Achievement Council to ensure students receiving a private scholarship receive up to 100% of their unmet need before their federal, state, or institutional aid is reduced. My bill was approved nearly unanimously and is now headed to the governor's desk for his signature.

Stay in touch!

Although the legislative session has ended, I work for you year-round. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments about state government-related matters, please contact me.

It's an honor to serve you!

Sincerely,


Mike Steele

State Representative Mike Steele, 12th Legislative District
RepresentativeMikeSteele.com
122F Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
mike.steele@leg.wa.gov
(509) 782-3436 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000