The state Senate capital budget includes more than $40 million for projects in the Tri-Cities, benefiting high school and university students, scientists and historical preservation, said Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick.
“These improvements will boost education, economic development and jobs in our communities,” she said.
Brown succeeded in adding a proposed investment of $8 million at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland to the Senate budget. The money would be used as leverage for a requested $89 million in federal funding for a new building.
The state money would buy scientific instruments to equip the proposed new building for fundamental research in chemistry and material science.
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“The instruments and the facility would be available to other Washington researchers and would position Washington research institutions for global leadership in advanced energy and materials science and technology research,” Brown said.
She estimated the research facility could result in about 300 jobs in Washington in a two-year period, plus short-term construction jobs.
A commitment by the state Legislature to fund this project would greatly strengthen PNNL’s ability to have this new facility built on its Richland campus.
State Sen. Sharon Brown
The Senate budget also includes $10.8 million for the Tri-Tech Skills Center in Kennewick.
The money could be used toward 16,000 square feet of classroom space for culinary arts, computer science and health care education, Brown said.
Washington State University Tri-Cities would like to add a new building to its Richland campus, and the proposed budget includes $3 million for the project.
The campus is short on science education space, Brown said, and the new building would include science laboratories, classrooms and administration space.
Some $6 million in the proposed budget would go to the city of Kennewick for a project that would allow remote reading of water meters.
Readings could be collected from a car driving along a street, Brown said.
Another $6 million could be used for an interchange at Ridgeline Drive and Highway 395 in Kennewick.
The National Guard could receive $800,000 to acquire land for a Tri-Cities Readiness Center.
There is an affordable housing crisis in our state, and this is particularly true in some areas of the Tri-Cities.
State Sen. Sharon Brown
Brown also made budget requests for two projects in Pasco, which is outside the Eighth Legislative District, because of their importance to the Tri-Cities.
The proposed budget includes $1.5 million for a project of the Habitat Tri-County Partners. It is working to raise $3.4 million to develop a neighborhood in Pasco where Habitat for Humanity would construct 24 homes to be completed by 2019.
“There is an affordable housing crisis in our state, and this is particularly true in some areas of the Tri-Cities,” Brown said. “Providing that level of funding would have a significant impact on obtaining the construction materials needed to place 24 partnering families in simple, decent and affordable homes.”
The other Pasco project is the Save the Old Tower activity in Pasco, which could receive $300,000.
The old control tower at Naval Air Station Pasco on the east side of the Tri-City Airport is being converted into a museum showcasing the history of the World War II air station.
Brown said she would be working to get all the projects she has championed included in the final budget as the Senate negotiates with the House of Representatives.