$165 million for counties

OLYMPIA – About $165 million would be funneled into Snohomish and Island counties for parks, recreation, arts and colleges under a proposed state construction budget issued Monday.

Funding can be found for projects as diverse as the Everett AquaSox and Oak Harbor veterans in the $4.2 billion House capital budget written by majority Democrats and set for a public hearing today.

One of the most closely watched line-items is $1.5 million to craft a plan by the end of the year for a regional university serving Snohomish, Island and Skagit counties.

Snohomish County legislators welcomed the money, although it’s $500,000 less than Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed for the same purpose in December.

Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, and Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, said the amount is enough to complete the task. They also wanted language making clear that the dollars would be spent on developing a branch campus of the University of Washington.

The two had written a proposal backed by community college and University of Washington leaders. They didn’t have the endorsement of the Democrats’ powerful chief budget writer, Rep. Helen Sommers, D-Seattle.

“It’s frustrating but you try to keep moving ahead,” Sells said. “She had a different view of it. We’re constantly working to press our point of view. But she’s going to need to be convinced.”

Dunshee said there’s time to work things out.

“We’re still in play. It’s a long way to the end,” he said.

State lawmakers are working toward adopting capital, transportation and operating budgets for the biennium that runs from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2009. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn April 22.

The capital budget is the least politically divisive spending document because it steers money into every legislative district for a range of popular .

The YMCA of Snohomish County would receive $4.96 million with $2.5 million covering the state’s purchase of 800 acres on Ebey Island from the YMCA. The rest would be for programs in Monroe, Mukilteo, Everett and the Snohomish area.

For the second year a row, the Everett AquaSox would get money for fixing up their home field, which is owned and operated by the Everett School District.

Funding is included for the Granite Falls Museum; Edmonds Center for the Arts; senior centers in three cities; an Oak Harbor veterans’ memorial; repairs at the state prison in Monroe; new construction at Everett, Edmonds and Cascadia community colleges; and millions of dollars in state park enhancements.

Majority House Democrats also issued their proposed transportation budget Monday. There are no new projects proposed, which means no dollars for U.S. 2 safety improvements.

The proposed spending plan would keep road, transit and bridge projects approved in 2005 on schedule and cover higher costs caused by inflation and soaring prices of materials, in part by delaying major work on all ferry terminals for two years.

Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee who wrote the budget, said postponements are needed while a better means of financing the state ferry system is put in place. She also wants to freeze fares for one year while that work is complete.

This would push back the Mukilteo ferry relocation project. Clibborn said she had made her decision before evidence of an Indian village had been found in the area where the state wants to relocate its Mukilteo terminal and connect it with nearby bus and train service.

Today, Sommers will lay out details of the main two-year operating budget.

All three budgets could be passed by the full House this week and sent to the Senate. The Democrat-controlled Senate would then act on its own proposals setting up negotiations between the two chambers.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Education money

$40.6 million: Everett Community College, University Center construction

$32.6 million: Cascadia Community College Center for Arts, Technology and Communication

$23.2 million: Sno-Isle Skills Center, new construction

$9.26 million: Edmonds Community College Meadowdale Hall renovation

Spreading the legislative dough

$4.96 million: YMCA of Snohomish County; includes Ebey Island purchase, other projects

$1 million: Edmonds Center for the Arts

$500,000: City of Everett Senior Center

$433,000: Everett AquaSox ballpark renovations

$350,000: Northshore Performing Arts Center

$250,000: Mukilteo Boys &Girls Club

$250,000: Mill Creek Senior Center

$200,000: South County Senior Center

$187,000: Marysville Food Bank

$176,000: North Lynnwood park aquatic playground

$143,050: Werkhoven Dairy development rights acquisition

$59,000: Oak Harbor dredging

$50,000: Oak Harbor Veterans memorial

$30,000: Granite Falls Museum

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