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Washington state capital budget still on hold; schools frustrated

The Washington Capitol in Olympia, Washington. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

OLYMPIA, Washington — The seemingly endless stalemate over the capital-construction budget in the state of Washington is frustrating school districts. State Republicans refuse to pass a budget until the legislature finds a fix to the Supreme Court’s Hirst decision, which deals with water rights in rural areas of Washington. Reardan-Edwall School District Superintendent Marcus Morgan says the issues should be uncoupled.

Morgan says his district is desperately in need of renovating some buildings, which haven’t been worked on in 40 years. After 11 failed bonds, it looked like Reardan-Edwall would get the money it needed from the state budget, but the dollars are locked up because of the budget dispute.

“The commercial lenders have looked at our books and say, ‘Well, your books look fine, you’re in great financial shape,’ ” Morgan says. “But honestly, I don’t know that we can trust the Legislature to ever pass a capital projects budget. … (The lenders say) ‘It’s not you, it’s just kind of like the Legislature’s kind of crazy.’ ”

More than $1 billion in the budget is for school construction, and some money will go toward expand Washington’s preschool programs.

Democrats have asked for a special legislative session in December to reach a deal, after the election results are validated.

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