The Senate’s capital budget author Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, said that a House plan to replace the state General Administration building with a new structure next door is a no-go for him – at least this year.
But he said a more comprehensive solution to the state’s building needs could be a topic for negotiation when the House and Senate start talks to reconcile their rival $3.6 billion capital-construction budgets in the next week.
“For me I think it’s a nonstarter until we have a full plan for what to do with the State Library and the Archives,’’ Honeyford said before Thursday’s Senate Ways and Means Committee meeting at which the Senate version of the capital budget passed.
Honeyford said he understands there are concerns about the building, which a former governor called a legal liability. He said he has not been inside it for a few years.
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Democratic Sen. Karen Fraser of Thurston County said she was encouraged to hear of Honeyford’s continuing interest in the State Library and Archives, which she had sought to incorporate several years ago into a new Heritage Center project at the site of the existing GA Building.
“I think that makes a lot of sense,” she said of the GA replacement proposal outlined Wednesday by House Capital Budget Committee chairman Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish. “The GA building is basically falling apart and studies show it would cost more to fix it up than replace it.’’
The Heritage project is dead for now but knocking down the GA structure would open a place for it.
As outlined by Dunshee, the replacement building would go in the adjacent block now housing a two-story building and parking garage, both of which are in disrepair, at 1063 Capitol Way. The State Patrol and other GA tenants would move into the new structure allowing demolition of GA.
Fraser said the existing GA structure is a “lousy work environment” and lighting is bad. She declined to commit to a hard push to get the replacement funded this year.
Like the House, the Senate apparently has concern about the 1063 building, which used to house a children’s museum. Its roof is reported to have leaks and the Senate budget includes $100,000 of “predesign” money to assess what would be needed to rehabilitate the existing structure. But that is far short of the $18 million in bonds the House would allocate for the $82 million GA replacement project.
“It’s all going to come down to negotiations,’’ Honeyford said.
Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688 firstname.lastname@example.org/politicsblog
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