April 29, 2019
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Transportation and capital budgets pass with bipartisan support

Lawmakers adopted a $9.8 billion transportation budget for the 2019-21 biennium. The two-year budget provides additional investments for a new 144-car hybrid electric ferry, conversion of an existing ferry, and terminal improvements. It also provides $35 million for re-opening a project office for the replacement of an I-5 bridge crossing in Vancouver.

Most importantly, transportation leaders maintained the commitments to the 2015 Connecting Washington package and even accelerated a few key infrastructure projects, including the SR 167/SR 509 Gateway and I-90 Snoqualmie Pass.

"While there was a lot of discussion on advancing a new statewide transportation revenue package this session, the votes never materialized," said Mike Ennis, AWB government affairs director for transportation and infrastructure. "However, I fully expect that discussion to continue during interim and we could see another revenue proposal next year."

The capital budget spends $4.9 billion, including $3.22 billion from the sale of general obligation bonds. The measure leaves $69.9 million in bond capacity for the 2020 supplemental capital budget.

"This spending plan is good news for Washingtonians," said Rep. Mike Steele, R-Chelan, assistant ranking member on the House Capital Budget Committee. "It positions our economy for continued success, puts our families back to work, and will help build our rural communities for generations to come."

A full list of capital budget documents is online here, or view projects by district.

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Teaching for Tomorrow

STEM skills vital to rural students, too

By Kevin Chase, superintendent of ESD 105

In the next five years an estimated 225,465 jobs that earn a family-sustaining wage will require credentials that many of our Washingtonian students are not on track to earn. In south-central Washington, 14,455 high-paying jobs will need a credential in the next five years.

I see the chasm between education attainment and how that translates to employment and jobs. We have to make changes in our education system that allow our families and kids to visualize their path forward and to have local employers be able to recruit and train their workforce in novel ways. Career Connect Washington, a statewide initiative, is bringing together business, labor, government and education leaders so that young people have the education and skills needed to connect with high-demand, family-wage careers across Washington and in the Valley...

Even though we are an agriculture-based region we are not immune from changing workforce demands, as agriculture becomes more and more automated. Our students are ready and willing to step up to the challenge of 21st century work demands. It is up to us to prepare them...

Read the full op-ed in The Yakima Herald-Republic
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