Legislature passes capital budget that provides strong broadband funding

The Senate yesterday voted 49-0 to approve a compromise two-year state capital budget. The $6.3 billion spending plan provides a record $413 million toward the expansion of broadband access in Washington.

The House of Representatives voted 98-0 today to pass the capital budget, House Bill 1080.

Sen. Mark Schoesler, who helped negotiate the 2021-23 capital budget agreement, said the emphasis on broadband needs is especially important for the 9th District and other rural parts of the state.

“For many communities in our district and other rural areas, insufficient broadband is a real problem,”: said Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “This final budget provides over $400 million to help address it. Better broadband in rural Washington will help students relying on the internet and help small businesses that want to engage in e-commerce. It is also critical to precision farming. This will help put rural and unserved areas of our state on a more equal footing with more populated areas of Washington.”

The capital budget provides a total of $55.4 million in funding for several projects in the 9th District:

Local and community projects:

  • Adams County property/evidence processing facility in Othello – $900,000
  • Esther’s Home in Pasco – $1 million
  • Garfield Pool upgrade – $500,000
  • Wheat Land Fairgrounds (Ritzville) grounds improvement, including upgraded restroom and shower facilities and Americans With Disabilities Act compliance – $150,000
  • Ritzville downtown improvements – $105,000
  • Asotin Masons Hall – $20,000

Infrastructure projects:

  • Malden USDA water – $247,000
  • Othello water conservation system – $515,000

Department of Commerce projects:

  • Port of Pasco’s Reimann Industrial Corridor Center – $7.5 million

2021-23 small school district and tribal compact schools modernization:

  • Garfield School District – $5.224 million
  • Palouse School District – $4.63 million
  • St. John School District – $2.459 million
  • Tekoa Junior/Senior High School – $3.385 million

Washington State University:

  • Campus fire protection and domestic water reservoir – $8 million
  • Clark Hall research lab renovation – $4.9 million
  • Johnson Hall replacement – $8 million
  • Minor capital preservation – $5.497 million
  • WSU Pullman STEM teaching labs – $2.5 million

State Historical Society – heritage capital grant projects:

  • Gladish Community and Cultural Center roof replacement – $120,000
  • LaCrosse Rocks! A Heritage Center on the National Geologic Trail – $131,000
  • Pullman Depot Heritage Center – $266,000

Columbia River water supply development program:

  • Quad Cities (City of West Richland/Richland/Kennewick/Pasco) – $2 million
  • Odessa ground water replacement program – $21 million

Eastern Washington clean sites initiatives:

  • Pasco Landfill – $300,000

State Parks and Recreation Commission:

  • Lyons Ferry State Park campground reestablishment
  • Palouse Falls State Park day-use area renovation

Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board:

  • Cougar Creek – $485,000

Washington wildlife recreation grants:

  • Leland conservation easement – $770,000
  • Leland farmland preservation easement – $241,000
  • Lions Park Pride Rock Playground in Othello – $500,000

Youth athletic facilities:

  • Clarkston Club athletic field renovation – $334,000
  • Lions Park basketball zone in Othello – $350,000
  • Colfax Pool mechanical room renovation – $75,000
  • The Pit youth facilities – $33,000

Schoesler pointed out the capital budget also provides the state Department of Agriculture with $8 million to award competitive grants to state agricultural fairs for access and safety improvement projects.

The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to end Sunday.