This year, Senate Democrats worked to pass a jobs package that will not only create 18,000 jobs in the hard-hit construction sector, but drive Washington's economic growth for the long-haul.
The capital budget funds construction projects that will help Washingtonians qualify for jobs -- such as a $39-million classroom expansion project at Tacoma Community College that will allow the school to increase by 50 percent the number of students graduating in high-demand health care careers, such as radiology technicians, respiratory therapy specialists, and health information managers.
It also targets projects that will leverage private-sector economic investment. For example, The Port of Chelan County has an agreement to sell a former mill site to an apple packaging company located nearby that is in the midst of a 400 to 900-job expansion. However, the agreement is contingent on the company's ability to develop the property -- and more than 65,000 cubic yards of buried wood waste must still be removed and recycled before the soil is stable enough to support development. By funding the $1.6 million cleanup project, the state and port will allow the company to expand its existing plant, and possibly to build a new plant.
Overall, the capital budget (SB 6074, 5127) is expected to drive the creation of 8,000 on-going jobs by making more than $1 billion of these sorts of long-term investments -- infrastructure to help our ports export goods, research facilities to help our universities partner with cutting-edge industries, better K-12 schools, and water treatment facilities to help our communities grow.
Tightly linked to the capital budget this year was a proposed amendment to the State Constitution that lowers the state's debt limit (SJR 8221). The proposal was based on the recommendations of the Commission on State Debt.
Looking forward, Senate Democrats recognize there is no silver bullet to addressing high unemployment in our state. Instead, the caucus has adopted a "silver buckshot" approach to economic development, working in several areas at once. Included in that long-term plan are several specific areas. For more on our long-term approach to building our economy, click here.