The earthquake-vulnerable General Administration Building near the state Capitol won't be demolished or mothballed under a $3.1 billion capital budget proposal outlined by House capital-budget writers Monday.
Democratic Rep. Hans Dunshee of Snohomish and his Republican counterpart, Republican Rep. Judy Warnick of Moses Lake, did put in money to replace the roof on the Natural Resources Building and make about $1 million in repairs to the Legislative Building.
They also dedicated $2 million for the Tacoma Hilltop Health Center, $1.36 million for the North Mason Senior Center in Belfair, and millions to college campuses around the state for renovations and repairs. Included is $35.5 million for a new learning resource center for South Puget Sound Community College’s west Olympia campus, $10.78 million for The Evergreen State College’s science center lab and other campus upgrades or repairs, and another $35 million for a Washington State University biomedical and health services building in Spokane. The budget also has $390 million for local school projects.
Those projects are among the hundreds listed in the construction spending bill that Dunshee says will employ close to 52,000 people.
“It’s a big deal for those folks,” he said. “We’re going to put contractors and people back to work on both sides of the mountain.”
The bipartisan approach led Dunshee, the capital-budget chairman, and Warnick, the ranking minority member, to put out a joint statement in support of the draft proposal. It still needs to be heard in committee, be voted on in the House, then passed over to the Senate for more negotiations.
But one construction-budget item remains in dispute – $65 million that Rep. Ross Hunter, main author of the operating budget, wants to pull out of the public-works funding. Warnick is against that.
Other than that, few funds were raided in the capital budget to help out ongoing general-fund expenses – unlike last year when lawmakers raided the toxics cleanup fund. Gov. Gregoire had proposed more shifts, too.
Dunshee said the House would issue $1.4 billion in bonds to pay for many of the projects.
Gregoire sought $6 million to demolish the GA building on the Capitol Campus, describing it as costly to maintain and a liability risk because it is vulnerable to earthquakes. Democratic Sen. Karen Fraser of Thurston County and several other South Sound lawmakers support the demolition.
But Dunshee said the State Patrol wants to stay in the GA building and other tenants didn’t want to see the money spent on tearing it down or mothballing it, which would require agencies to relocate to more costly space. He said the $6 million demolition cost is needed elsewhere.
“We don’t want to spend $6 million to tear it down until we have something to replace it with,” Dunshee said.
UPDATED April 5 to clarify that the $10.78 million for The Evergreen State College is for renovations and preservation of an existing science lab on campus and other campus work.