EDITORIAL: Budget Supports Chehalis Pool, Flood Protection —

EDITORIAL: Budget Supports Chehalis Pool, Flood Protection

By Chronicle Editorial Board
Centralia Chronicle

When Gov. Jay Inslee signed the two-year state budget on Sunday after the original session, which started in January, and two more “special” ones, he penned spending of $33.6 billion.

It was signed a day before the government of the state would have shut down.

There is much to applaud in the budget, including the increase of $1 billion to our education system, and also its provisions to keep higher education tuition rates from rising.

Although the Democrats in charge of the House and Inslee attempted to raise taxes, they were stymied by a stubborn Republican-led coalition in the Senate.

The budget saved $320 million by saying no to school employee cost-of-living increases.

Tax breaks were also extended on a variety of businesses, from beekeepers to renewable energy.

For Lewis County, the big news coming out of the budget is $28.2 million in the State Capital Budget aimed to prevent catastrophic flooding in the Chehalis River Basin. The money awarded matches the full request made by the Chehalis Work Group: $9.2 million for the study and design of a water retention facility at the headwaters of the Chehalis River above Pe Ell; $10.7 million for flood protection projects; $4.4 million for flood-reduction projects that enhance fish habitat/survival; $1.75 million for projects to reduce flood damage within the floodplain; $1.2 million for operation of the basin projects; and almost $1 million to pay for state assistance and permitting.

The Chehalis pool renovation project also received a double-shot of good news. The state budget included $65 million in funding for the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition. The pool project will now receive $250,000 through that agency.

The state Legislature also approved, within the State Capital Budget, another $250,000 for the pool upgrades, which includes a zero-depth pool among many improvements. That project, with a total cost of $2.2 million, is near its goal of securing that amount in funding.

Connie Bode, who serves as the volunteer pool construction director for the nonprofit Chehalis Foundation, thanked Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, and Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, for ensuring the money was granted for the pool project. Bode also called the money raised so far “amazing.”

“We have raised $1.5 million from private citizens and we have $200,000 more to go, but this state funding is a big shot in the arm,” Bode said. “It is both needed and appropriate for state dollars to be used to support this public facility that is used by families from across our area.”

This budget will have a significant impact on Lewis County for decades to come in the form of an outstanding pool system and vital flood protection.

Read the complete story at Centralia Chronicle
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