Governor releases proposed budgets

By Diana Carlen
WAWG lobbyist

Yesterday, Governor Inslee released his proposed operating, capital and transportation budgets for the state’s two-year biennium beginning July 1, 2017.  Due to the fact that the governor’s budget relies on $4.4 billion in new revenue which will face significant opposition in the Senate, it is considered a high-water mark for funding for many areas of the budget.

Below are some highlights I found in the budgets that will be of interest, but note some of them have significant funding from the proposed carbon tax that faces an uphill battle in the Senate and possible the House as well.

The good news is that the Washington State University (WSU) plant sciences building was funded, but unfortunately not the Global Animal Health Phase II.

Washington State University’s plant sciences building. Build a new plant sciences building on the Pullman campus. The building will house faculty and associated students and feature research programs in plant biochemistry, plant pathology, horticulture and crop sciences. This project will complete construction of the complex of facilities that supports collaboration among the university’s plant scientists. ($58.9 million bonds)

Department of Ecology water supply, stormwater and flood protection. Award grants to tribes, local governments, state agencies and nongovernmental organizations for projects that restore natural conditions in floodplains, construct flood protection and stormwater systems and increase water supply to basins. A total of $30.1 million restores the 2016 supplemental reduction and continues these important stormwater projects ($132.9 million Carbon Pollution Reduction Account):

  • Catastrophic flood relief – $50.0 million
  • Columbia River water supply development program – $31.8 million
  • Floodplains by design – $20.3 million
  • Othello water supply and storage – $1.5 million
  • Stormwater financial assistance program – $70.0 million
  • Yakima River Basin water supply – $31.1 million

Department of Ecology Clean Air Rule. Implement the agency’s Clean Air Rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This will reduce public health impacts; economic damage to industry, agriculture, forestry and infrastructure; and ecological damage to forests, fish and oceans. ($4.6 million GF-S)

The Governor also released this policy brief on carbon reduction (i.e. carbon tax proposal)

Food Safety Lab Accreditation. The Washington Department of Agriculture’s (WSDA) Food Safety and Consumer Services Laboratory is the state’s central lab to test for pathogens in food, feed and dairy products. This testing is used to protect public and animal health. Additional resources will allow the laboratory to maintain its International Standard Organization (ISO) accreditation that protects consumers from contaminated food and feed and will ensure faster recalls and fewer challenges from the responsible firms. ($334,000 in General Fund-State) ·

Produce Safety Federal Agreement. The federal Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in 2011. The goal of this law is to prevent food contamination before it occurs. In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration adopted a Produce Safety rule, and Washington is a major grower of produce covered by this rule. Using federal funding, WSDA will develop a program to educate and train producers and to develop inspection and testing procedures to ensure the safety of produce grown in Washington. This will benefit Washington residents and consumers in other states and nations. ($3,332,000 General Fund-Federal)

Department of Fish & Wildlife’s payment in lieu of taxes. Continue reductions in the PILT program to counties to compensate for lost tax revenues for agency-owned lands. Payments are increased by 15 percent to provide compensation for additional land purchases. (save $3.2 million GF-S).

The Governor’s office has released a document listing the highlights of his budget.