[NFBWATLK] Article: $80 million from capital budget heading to Clark County, The Columbian, January 22, 2018

Nightingale, Noel Noel.Nightingale at ed.gov
Wed Jan 24 18:42:31 UTC 2018

"The Vancouver-based Washington State School for the Blind will receive $570,000 for campus maintenance and $50,000 for an Independent Living Skills Center."


$80 million from capital budget heading to Clark County: Wide variety of projects to benefit after agreement ends impass

The Columbian

January 22, 2018

By Jake Thomas

Clark County will finally get funding for a much-anticipated list of infrastructure and construction projects after Gov. Jay Inslee signed the $4.2 billion capital budget on Friday.

Passage of the budget had been held up for months over an impasse regarding water rights. According to numbers provided by the state Office of Financial Management, Clark County is expected to receive $80 million to make improvements to schools, social services facilities, habitat restoration and other projects.

Clark County will also receive portions of appropriations included in the budget for other projects geared toward mental health and conservation. Some projects included in the budget overlap with neighboring counties.

"It's a fantastic thing," said Jan Wichert, executive director of Bridgeview, a Vancouver-based nonprofit that provides assistance to low-income individuals. "It takes a real weight off our shoulders and pushes us forward on the path to be better able to serve the folks of Clark County."

The capital budget contains two grants worth $1.2 million for the Bridgeview Education and Employment Resource Center, which is meant to be a one-stop shop for services and support for low-income households. Last year, Bridgeview began work on the new facility on faith that the budget would eventually be approved.

Wichert, who credits Clark County's legislative delegation for working together to secure funding, said it's possible the project may become more expensive because of the delay and that Bridgeview will consider its options if that's the case.

Clark College also received a variety of funds intended for maintenance and preservation of its buildings. Additionally, it received $35 million for its student recreation center and $5.2 million for a satellite campus. Washington State University Vancouver will receive half a million dollars for the pre-design of its Life Sciences Building.

The Vancouver-based Washington State School for the Blind will receive $570,000 for campus maintenance and $50,000 for an Independent Living Skills Center. Cities in Clark County will also receive money for infrastructure under the budget, which also includes grants for natural areas, as well as $300,000 for the Clark County Historical Museum.

"The state's capital budget is one of the best budgets for Clark County that we've seen in a long time," said Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, in a prepared statement.

In the same statement, Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, praised the capital budget for aligning with priorities in the operating budget.

State Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, took to Facebook to highlight the budget's $1.1 million in safety upgrades at the Harmony Sport Complex, $250,000 for maintenance on historic steam engines for the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad, $10 million to extend Northeast 10th Avenue, $1.3 million for Washougal Oaks Natural Area, as well as the new Clark College campus in Ridgefield.

"While all of these are excellent capital investments in our community, we must remind ourselves that these are not 'government funded,' " wrote Pike. "They are tax-payer funded; projects made possible by the hard working taxpayers of this state. My hat is off to them!!"

In a press release, State Rep. Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, called attention to how the budget prioritizes the construction of K-12 school projects with $933 million allocated for the School Construction Assistance Program. In addition to funding for WSU Vancouver, she also called attention to $609,000 for Cascadia Technical Academy, $167,000 to Sea Mar dental clinic and $3 million for a new facility for Daybreak Youth Services, a nonprofit that provides substance abuse and mental health services for adolescents.

State Sen. Lynda Wilson, a Vancouver Republican who shares the same district as Kraft, touted several of the same projects in her newsletter.

The Republican Party, which previously controlled the state Senate until November of last year, was criticized for holding up the capital budget's passage until a fix to the court case affecting rural water rights was also passed. But Wilson wrote in her newsletter she was proud that the Republicans held strong to get a resolution to the issue that she called "well-negotiated" and supportive of rural landowners' property rights.

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