By Mike Baker Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee gave final approval Monday to one of the largest land purchases in state history as officials expand efforts to protect water supplies in Yakima River Basin.
Inslee signed a new capital budget that dedicates about $100 million to purchase some 50,000 acres in upper Kittitas County. The Democrat said the purchase helps preserve land while providing critical support to the economy in the region.
“This is an investment that improves irrigation supplies in the decades to come, which is extremely important to the agricultural economy of central Washington,” Inslee said.
The $3.6 billion capital budget signed by Inslee also includes money for education projects, including $30 million for a clean technology laboratory at Washington State University. It also allocates funding to a variety of other water improvement and clean-up projects around the state.
“The fundamental principle of the bill is built on the idea that our economy and environment can grow together and both can thrive as we grow the economy out of this recession,” Inslee said.
Officials believe the state budget for capital projects will help create 30,000 to 40,000 jobs.
The budget also pays to improve camera systems within the state’s prisons. Lawmakers said that was partially in response to the 2011 strangling death of prison guard Jayme Biendl, who was killed in a prison chapel.
The capital budget had broad bipartisan support from lawmakers when they passed the spending plan on Saturday on the final day of the legislature session.