Lawmakers adjourn 2023 session after passing transportation, capital and operating budgets
OLYMPIA – Final budgets approved by Washington lawmakers before adjourning their 2023 legislative session keep the Belfair Bypass on track, ensure adequate funding for rural domestic violence shelters like Shelton’s Turning Pointe, promote early learning programs in the Shelton School District and finance $36 million in public works projects across the 35th Legislative District.
Washington lawmakers ended their 2023 legislative session Sunday night after passing transportation, capital and operating budgets. The budgets provide money for local projects statewide.
In the 35th Legislative District, public works projects winning funding include Department of Corrections facilities, water systems, parks and ports. The allocations were championed by 35th District lawmakers Sen. Drew MacEwen and Reps. Dan Griffey and Travis Couture.
The Belfair Bypass proved the single biggest allocation for the district. The long-awaited Belfair project was among a number of major road projects proposed for delay by Gov. Jay Inslee. Under the Inslee proposal, bypass construction, set to begin this year, would have been delayed until the 2029-31 biennium.
Lawmakers rejected the delays in the transportation budget bill, House Bill 1125, and provided an additional $12 million for the project to stave off delays and supply interruptions. The money comes in addition to $79 million already allocated for the project.
“I am very pleased with the combined efforts of the 35th District delegation in delivering key projects for our district,” said MacEwen, R-Shelton. “These are all much needed infrastructure projects that help our region with transportation, development, safety, drinking water, and helping those in need. I am proud to serve with Reps Griffey and Couture as we have locked arms on doing the very best for the people of our district.”
“I am thrilled the hard work of our 35th delegation paid off in so many areas. We got some great victories for the 35th District in the budgets,” said Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn. “The funding for special education that was included in the final version of the operating budget is great news for our K-12 students and long overdue. There is also potential for funding for the much-needed 23-hour crisis receiving centers through a grant program. The transportation budget includes funding for many important projects for our district, including the Highway 3 Freight Corridor, formerly known as the Belfair Bypass, and the capital budget has vital funding for the Shelton Domestic Violence center. Securing this funding was a team effort and I thank my seatmates for their collaboration and hard work.”
“Our team worked hard to secure important investments in education, including special education, mental health, childcare, housing, and access to broadband,” said Couture, R-Allyn, who serves on both the House Appropriations Committee and the House Capital Budget Committee. “Oftentimes, rural districts like ours are left out of the conversation. That’s not the case this year. I am especially proud of reprioritizing over $5 million in funding for the final phase of the Oakland Bay Restoration project, which will greatly benefit Shelton and provide upwards to 80 new jobs. I am also very excited to have secured $1 million in design funding to build a new Mason County jail that we envision will have additional bed capacity and mental health receiving facilities – the top need of our local law enforcement. These critical investments in our district are only possible because of the close partnership and hard work of our entire delegation.”
The 35th District lawmakers obtained significant appropriations for the district in the state’s roughly $70 billion operating budget, Senate Bill 5187.
Funding for rural domestic violence shelters got a boost in the state operating budget due to the efforts of MacEwen. The budget stipulates that $1.5 million will be allocated to domestic violence shelters over the next two years based on bed capacity. The additional funding aims to compensate rural domestic violence shelters like Shelton’s Turning Pointe Survivor Advocacy Center for an influx of urban clients seeking refuge in rural areas.
Rural shelter funding is an ongoing concern for MacEwen, who won a similar appropriation in 2022. This year he sponsored Senate Bill 5398, launching a task force to study permanent changes to domestic violence shelter funding formulas. The bill has passed the Legislature and awaits the governor’s signature, while the budget provides an additional $117,000 for the work of the task force.
Couture secured $360,000 for the Shelton School District to contract with an organization that provides free early learning and childhood music education. This is a one-time investment that will continue with title funding.
The freshman lawmaker also was able to get $100,000 to jumpstart an equine therapy program for military veterans and active members of the military, which will leverage federal funds. Equine therapy is a proven alternative therapy method that can help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related problems.
Public works projects were funded by the state’s $8.3 billion capital budget, Senate Bill 5200, which uses bonds and other sources of funding to pay for long-lasting public infrastructure.
Projects in the 35th District that won funding include:
• $3 million for repairs to water tank storage at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton;
• $2.131 million for small district public school construction districtwide;
• $1.85 million for Angleside reservoir capacity upgrades in Shelton;
• $1.2 million for young adult transitional housing in Shelton;
• $1.03 million for the design of a new Mason County jail in Shelton;
• $1 million for Mason Public Utility District water infrastructure in Matlock;
• $618,000 for Mason Public Utility District 1 Vuecrest water system storage project in Union;
• $618,000 for Camp Thunderbird wastewater treatment facility in Olympia;
• $571,000 for replacement of the water system at Millersylvania State Park in Thurston County,
• $515,000 for Port of Allyn public pier repair in Allyn;
• $412,000 for Kitsap Humane Society Veterinary Lifesaving Center in Silverdale;
• $350,000 for Sandhill Park;
• $350,000 for Yelm Highway Community Park;
• $250,000 for regional water and sewer upgrades in Rochester;
• $250,000 for security and access improvements in Shelton;
• $215,000 for Shelton daycare and building project;
• $198,000 for the Swede Hall renovation project in Rochester;
• $103,000 for emergency shelter capital improvements in Shelton; and
• $70,000 for library improvements in Shelton.