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Senate Capital Budget Misses Key Opportunities for Investment in Washington

Statement on the State Senate 2013-2015 Capital Budget

The Washington State Senate's capital budget proposal misses key opportunities to invest in natural resource projects that create jobs and benefit all communities across the state by cleaning up Puget Sound and other waterways, protecting communities against forest fires and landslides, and promoting outdoor recreation. Washington state deserves more. We need more investment from our legislature in communities across the state. Key points on environmental issues in the Senate's proposed capital budget:

The Senate's capital budget proposal invests $200 million less than Governor Inslee's budget in Washington projects - this means fewer state dollars putting people to work improving our state and protecting our basic public health.

The Senate's budget fails to fully fund proven, win-win programs that create jobs in Conservation Works, a package of natural resource programs supported by the environmental community, by $154 million less than requested. Specifically:

o Underinvests in polluted stormwater runoff and Puget Sound restoration projects by $75 million, missing the opportunity to create jobs while reducing pollution in our waterways.

o Underfunds forest health programs that protect our communities from costly forest fires by $28 million.

o Underfunds the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) at nearly $40 million less than in Governor Inslee's proposed budget. In addition, the Senate earmarks poorly ranked, but politically popular projects, ignoring the objective ranking criteria that has made the WWRP a nationally-recognized program.

Creates a new account under the Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA) to disguise the shift of $256 million to other uses, some of which were not approved by voters.

Funds the Yakima River Basin Integrated Plan at $132 million, three times more than what was requested by project proponents or allocated in Governor Inslee's budget ($45 million). This excessive funding should be redirected to other more pressing needs which benefit the entire state, as identified in our Conservation Works priority.

This decreased investment in our state will continue if Senate Bill 5895 is passed, as it will permanently reduce the amount of capital funds available for win/win environmental projects that put people to work, while keeping our state healthy.

For Immediate Release: April 9, 2013

Contacts:

Kerry McHugh, Washington Environmental Council, 206.902.7555,kerry@wecprotects.orgRobin Stanton, The Nature Conservancy in Washington, 206.436.6274, rstanton@tnc.org