With the closing of the 2017 legislative session on July 20th - after three overtime sessions - it's clear that the people of Washington lost out to the power of special interests on a number of fronts.
On the Hirst decision - which aimed to ensure better planning of rural surface and groundwater sources - the legislature ended the session without moving forward on any of the workable solutions that would have protected wildlife, farms, and rural property owners. Regarding the latter, not only did the Republican Senate choose to side with real estate and developer interests - which are comfortable continuing to sell properties without legal water to unsuspecting buyers - but they did so at the expense of all Washington taxpayers by linking the issue to their refusal to pass a capital budget for the first time in state history. The lack of a capital budget will impact school construction, mental health facilities, infrastructure improvements and puts hundreds of peoples jobs at risk.
Other Futurewise priorities were also unrealized by this year, as the lack of a capital budget impacted over $100 million set aside for the Housing Trust Fund, which we supported over the last several years in an effort to address the state’s affordable housing crisis. In addition, the passage of HB 2243 will allow schools to be sited farther away from the children they serve – an outcome that Futurewise has fought against consistently in an effort to keep school construction from encouraging suburban sprawl and exacerbating the costs of transportation and infrastructure.
We did make advancements in a key long-term priority with HB 2023 – a bill that would have prevented developments from being sited within illegal expansions of a city’s urban growth boundary – passed the House. This indicates that House members understand the negative impacts that illegal developments have on communities, like those that have plagued Spokane in recent years. In addition, we were successful in working with partners to fend off attacks on Sound Transit funding, ensuring that voter-approved projects to deliver high quality transit to Puget Sound communities will remain intact.
Click here to read the full text of our press release.