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$4.2B Capital Budget Pays For Construction Projects Across Washington

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, signs the capital budget, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 at the Capitol in Olympia, Washington.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, signs the capital budget, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 at the Capitol in Olympia, Washington.

Ted S. Warren/AP

Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday signed both a $4.2 billion capital budget that pays for construction projects across the state, as well as a compromise bill on a contentious water issue that had stalled the budget for months.

Inslee signed the so-called Hirst fix privately in his office, followed by public signings of the budget and accompanying bonds bill later in the afternoon.

Before signing the measures, Inslee said the budget “puts thousands of Washingtonians to work, all across the state of Washington.”

“We know this capital budget restarts hundreds of projects to expand and improve affordable housing, mental health facilities, schools, water systems, wild land forest health and so much more,” he said.

The Senate and the House passed all of the measures Thursday night after reaching agreement on how to address a state Supreme Court decision known as Hirst involving the use of domestic wells in rural areas. They also quickly passed the construction spending plan that includes money for major projects across the state, including affordable housing, K-12 school buildings, mental health beds and public work projects.

The action came at the end of the second week of the current legislative session. Last year, lawmakers had adjourned without approving the two-year construction budget after Republicans refused to pass it without legislation to address the 2016 Hirst court ruling.

Senate 6091, which passed 35-14 in Senate and 66-30 in the House, would allow landowners in rural areas to tap household wells — know as permit-exempt wells — while local committees work to develop plans for future water use. Those plans must outline how to offset potential impacts to rivers and streams from those wells.

The plan includes $300 million over the next 15 years for projects that improve stream flows and restore watersheds.

AP writer Phuong Le contributed from Seattle.

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