Politics & Government

Budget door may be shut on Maple Lane

Local legislators were optimistic this summer that they would be able to keep Maple Lane School open, even after Gov. Chris Gregoire agreed with lawmakers in May to close the Grand Mound juvenile detention center by mid-2013.

Seven months later, a reversal of fortunes for the facility seems highly unlikely.

“It’s about as close to zero as you’re going to get,” Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, said about the chances to save the 95-year-old facility in its current capacity. “I don’t see it in the cards.”

The Rochester Republican said it’d be difficult to place anything back in a budget that is being gutted as state lawmakers find ways to close a $1.1 billion deficit for the budget year ending in June.

“If we could find some more money, it’d be easier to keep Maple Lane open,” Swecker said. “But we’re going to be cutting from that budget and every other budget.”

Earlier this year, the Legislature scheduled the closure of the facility for June 2013. However, the governor’s 6.3 percent across-the-board budget cuts could expedite the site’s closure to June 2011.

It won’t be known whether that will happen until the governor releases her budget, a move expected next week, Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration spokeswoman Dana Phelps said.

Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, said he’s preparing to make a pitch during the regular session in an effort to prevent the closure of the facility.

“We want to show that it’s not cost-effective,” he said.