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Senate hears testimony on $3.9 billion capital budget proposal

by caprecord

The Senate Ways and Means Committee considered a bi-partisan $3.9 billion capital budget proposal on Wednesday, with adjustments from the $3.8 billion capital budget passed in the House last week.

The University of Washington. (Photo by hjl via Flickr.)
The University of Washington. (Photo by hjl via Flickr.)

Among the adjustments made in the Senate budget was the funding of $32.5 million for a new University of Washington computer science building. The University of Washington had requested $40 million to help pay for the building, and construction was not funded to that level in the House budget.

University of Washington director of state relations Genesee Adkins said the Senate’s proposed $32.5 million would help with accommodating the numbers of students who want to go into that field.

“This will allow us to double our enrollments in computer science,” she said.

The Senate’s proposal also puts $65 million in the Housing Trust Fund, which provides grants and loans for low income housing projects.

However, housing advocates hoped that the Senate could move closer to the House’s $80 million proposal for the Housing Trust Fund.

“We’re very grateful for the $65 million. We hope in conference you can get to the $80 million [that was] provided in the House,” said Mark Smith, executive director of the Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County. He said the housing is needed by low-income families and seniors.

“It leads to a higher quality of life,” he said.

The Senate capital budget proposal also includes a $30 million grant program that would expand the number of community behavioral health beds and $280 million for added classrooms to enable class-size reductions in kindergarten through third grade.

A full listing of the projects funded in the proposal are on the Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program website.

The state’s fiscal information website contains a comparison of the House and Senate capital budgets online.