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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

What’s in state budget for Clark County?

More than 50 projects will get funding from capital spending plan

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 29, 2023, 6:06am

Before the Washington Legislature adjourned on Sunday, lawmakers scrambled to reach consensus on the biennium operating, capital and transportation budgets.

Now that the budgets have been approved, it’s time to look at which programs and projects in Clark County will receive funding.

With several projects in the running, County Manager Kathleen Otto said her staff closely monitored lawmakers’ progress throughout the session. The county council held a legislative briefing each Monday throughout the session.

“We are very appreciative of our representatives from the 17th, 18th, 20th and 49th districts for supporting the projects in our region,” Otto said.

Among the projects and programs waiting for funding was the Interstate 5 Bridge replacement, affordable housing for low-income households and public health, among many others.

Legislators released the $69.2 billion operating budget just days prior to the end of the session. That left both lawmakers and the public with little time to read the 1,400-page spending bill before it had to be approved Sunday. An $8.7 billion capital budget, which includes funding for more than 50 projects in Clark County, was approved the day prior to the end of the session.

Republican lawmakers were especially critical of the operating budget, including 18th District Rep. Stephanie McClintock, R-Vancouver. McClintock noted that Republicans had very little say in the budget. McClintock also took issue with where the funding is going.

“One of the biggest takeaways from this budget is that instead of providing tax relief for hardworking individuals and families, it allocates money for nearly 1,800 new or expanded programs, in addition to continuing to fund current programs,” McClintock said in a press release Friday.

While the operating budget pays for many important things, McClintock said, it also leaves very little in reserves and provided no tax relief to Washington’s residents.

Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, was one of a handful of Republicans to vote for the operating budget. Wilson, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said while she was officially part of the committee that hashed out the budget compromise, she was never allowed in the room.

“I was not allowed in the room for those talks, which added about $400 million in spending beyond the Senate level,” Wilson said in a statement. “The new budget balances without the new taxes that the Democrats threatened in the past couple of weeks. In fact, it assumes several smaller tax reductions, all due to Republicans one way or another.”

One project being closely watched by the county, cities and local police is the creation of a new enforcement training center in Clark County. The capital budget includes $1 million to fund predesign work. The operating budget allocates $6.7 million in 2024 and $4.7 million in 2025 to establishing training centers in Clark, Skagit and Pasco counties.

A 48-bed behavioral health facility in the Mount Vista neighborhood received significant funding from the operating and capital budgets. The Department of Social and Health Services received a conditional use permit for the project in August.

The capital budget allocates $20.6 million in new and reallocated funding for constructions costs. The operating budget allocates $10.5 million in 2024 and $37.5 million in 2025 for operation of the long-term inpatient treatment facility.

Additional funding of $3 million in both 2024 and 2025 for behavioral health treatment for youth in Clark and Spokane counties was included in the operating budget and $2.5 million from the capital budget will go to Columbia River Mental Health Services to expand its operations.

According to operating budget documents, a $330,000 grant for Vancouver Lake will come from the state’s model toxics control program for the “purpose of developing and implementing a lake management plan to restore and maintain the health” of the lake.

Capital budget funds will go to the Washington School for the Deaf, which will receive nearly $15.4 million for additional construction costs for a physical education building and other improvement projects.

The Washington State School for the Blind had $2.1 million in allocations to fund minor capital projects while Clark College is slated to receive a little over $5.1 million for six projects involving building, infrastructure and roof repairs and to create an emergency reserve fund.

Schools and colleges weren’t the only ones to benefit from the new biennium budget. The Port of Vancouver was allocated $3.5 million for the removal of creosote and dock demolition. And Vancouver’s crime lab may get a new roof this year after the project was given nearly $1.6 million in funding.

To view the approved operating and capital budgets in full, go to https://fiscal.wa.gov/default.

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