Gov. Jay Inslee’s capital budget – infrastructure – came before a House panel Friday morning (Jan. 13).
The Federation’s Dennis Eagle said the governor’s plan is commendable on Mental Health, lays the groundwork for needed support in Parks, falls short on toxic cleanup and is dead wrong on the proposal to close Naselle Youth Camp.
The assumption that other parts of Juvenile Rehabilitation can absorb the 70-plus residents at Naselle is false, Eagle told the House Capital Budget Committee.
“Keep in mind that Green Hill School and Echo Glen are already operating over-capacity,” Eagle said.
The governor proposes some improvements to Echo Glen and Green Hill to take in Naselle’s youthful offenders.
Even so, closing Naselle will undermine “evidence-based rehabilitative programs,” Eagle said.
Eagle said the governor’s capital budget plan falls short on cleanup projects under the voter-passed Model Toxics Control Account (MTCA).
The governor’s plan “falls short of providing a long-term, stable solution to the funding problem in MTCA,” Eagle said.
“We know it’s important to protect people from sites that we understand are already polluted and we need a permanent fix.”
By the way, MTCA will be a major focus of attention in the Legislature next week, with no less than three committee work sessions.
Eagle applauded the governor’s plan on Mental Health infrastructure boosts: $16.2 million for Western State Hospital, $10.9 million for Eastern State Hospital, $12.1 million for the Child Study and Treatment Center, and $56.3 million for DSHS-owned and –operated facilities and commerce grants.
“The much-publicized problems we’ve had recently in the Mental Health system boils down to simply we don’t have enough beds and we don’t have enough staff,” Eagle said.
On Parks, Eagle said the governor’s plan provides a “fair amount of funding” for maintenance and preservation of the state’s 100-plus parks.
The $69 million requested by the governor is $26 million less than what the agency requested, Eagle said. But it’s still a good starting point to build on, he said.