Capital budget not as ‘happy’ as in years past

OLYMPIA — The last time Rep. Hans Dunshee wrote a capital budget for the state, it contained a record amount of money for education.

Wednesday the Snohomish Democrat released the House proposal for this year and could barely hide his disappointment that it didn’t replicate his earlier work.

“It’s the best we can do in tough times,” he said.

In the Senate, Democratic leaders spoke in a similar tone when they gathered for the rolling out of their proposed capital budget.

“Today we introduce the happy budget. But it could be happier,” said Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia.

For Snohomish County residents, there’s potentially millions of dollars of good news in the two plans.

In the Senate proposal, efforts to preserve Japanese Gulch in Mukilteo and convert part of the former Woodway High School into recreation fields would each receive $1 million.

“Even though these are difficult times, this is a blessing. These are opportunities that I’ve been working on for a long time,” Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, said of the two projects.

The House does not fund them.

Its plan does allot $1 million for replacement of the Snohomish County Emergency Operations Center and $1 million to Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center for the purchase of a building in Everett.

Those projects are not in the Senate proposal.

Some undertakings are in both draft budgets.

Snohomish County would get $883,000 for renovating a Carnegie Library for use as a museum.

In Everett, there’s $1 million for a Visual Arts Education Center pushed by the Arts Council of Snohomish County and $1 million for Artspace Projects, which is building housing lofts above an education center to lease to artists.

Another $500,000 is proposed for developing Village Theater’s KIDSTAGE in the former Key Bank building at the corner of California Street and Wetmore Avenue.

The capital budget, funded primarily with proceeds from the sale of bonds, is typically the least controversial of the spending plans enacted by the Legislature.

Historically it is a source of money for constructing schools and college buildings, installing sewer and water lines and boosting community arts and social service programs all around the state.

This year it is also a critical component for Democrats as they try to erase a projected $9 billion shortfall in the next budget for running state government.

Democrats, as the majority party of the Legislature, are responsible for drafting that spending plan.

In the House, Dunshee provides $780 million for the budget-balancing effort; Fraser steered $743 million to Senate budget writers.

Even after those transfers, each capital budget plan expends about $3.3 billion in the next two-year period.

Senate Democrats spend about $1 billion on higher education and $700 million on public schools. House Democrats pour about $300 million into colleges and universities and $850 million into K-12.

Dunshee said his higher education total is lower because he spent only on maintaining existing structures. Senators, he said, appear to divert maintenance money into financing construction of new buildings.

Dunshee also proposes spending $80 million on parks and recreation.

Among his recommendations are $500,000 for Doc Hageman Park in Lynnwood, $500,000 for Lighthouse Park in Mukilteo and $577,000 for the Interurban Trail in Edmonds.

Once the House and the Senate act on their respective versions, Dunshee and Fraser will sit down to reconcile the differences.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623,

How Legislature’s capital budgets differ

Senate and House Democrats released their proposed capital construction budgets Wednesday. They don’t fund all the same projects. Below is a sample of the recommendations.

To see all projects proposed for funding by the Legislature as well as the governor, go to and click on the “2009 budget proposals” link.

House only

$1 million for Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center building purchase

$1 million for Snohomish County Emergency Operations Center

Senate only

$1 million for land acquisition in Japanese Gulch

$1 million for recreation fields at former Woodway High School

$500,000 for Marysville Boys &Girls Club

$30,000 for Mill Creek city annex


$1 million for Visual Arts Education Center in Everett

$500,000 for converting Key Bank into a theater in Everett

$883,000 for renovating Carnegie Library for Snohomish County museum use

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