Hirst fix and capital budget approved
The Legislature approved the long-awaited ‘Hirst-fix’ bill and state capital budget late Thursday evening. Sen. Barbara Bailey voted in opposition to the Hirst-fix legislation, Senate Bill 6091 and for the state’s construction budget, unlocking resources for community building projects.
“The Hirst bill did not do anything for Skagit,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “I could not support the bill, though I applaud the efforts of our negotiators to bring relief to other rural parts of Washington, I must stand up for my constituents.”
Residents of Skagit County are no stranger to water issues, facing similar challenges presented by the flawed Hirst decision that all but halted rural economic development. Democrat negotiators left Skagit out of the household well solution at the request of the tribes.
“Let me be clear,” Bailey said. “I am a staunch supporter of property rights and the ability for property owners to drill a well on their property. This compromise legislation does help some of those affected by the 2016 Hirst decision that has all but halted rural development. However, it does not do nearly enough for our neighbors in Skagit County.”
With a Hirst compromise reached, $4.2 billion in spending for capital projects can now move forward. Bailey supported the capital budget that included more than $1 billion for school construction, $860 million for higher education and much more for environmental projects.
“I am glad that we can now begin these long-overdue projects,” said Bailey. “It was necessary to tie the Hirst and capital budget because we knew that the state must put money into that budget for water projects. Without doing that, urban legislators would continue to ignore the needs of their rural neighbors.” This compromise required $300 million for Hirst-related projects.
Other highlights of the capital budget include:
· $97 million to fund the current Public Works Assistance Account list in its entirety;
· $8 million for Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) grants;
· Nearly $100 million for affordable housing, including $12 million for innovative housing projects;
· $80 million for select Washington Wildlife Recreation Program projects; and
· $13 million for forest-hazard reduction.
A complete Capital Budget project list for the 10th Legislative District is available by clicking here.