In a surprise move earlier today, Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed section one of Rep. Bob McCaslin’s House Bill 1017, which would authorize the construction of schools and school facilities outside of designated urban growth areas. The governor’s veto means the bill will now only affect school districts in Pierce County.
“It’s a shame the governor, despite his continued talk of one Washington, is not serious about treating rural communities the same as urban communities,” said McCaslin, R-Spokane Valley. “With this veto today, he’s ensuring schools around the state will not be allowed to modernize and students will continue to be educated in portables.”
House Bill 1017, which has 27 cosponsors, was approved 31-17 in the Senate and 81-15 in the House.
Rep. David Taylor, a cosponsor of the bill, says he is disappointed the statewide solution legislators worked for and school districts wanted is no longer an option.
“The governor’s decision clearly sends the message that the urban growth boundary line is far more important to him than local, community-based decisions,” said Taylor, R-Moxee. “It’s illogical to continue having schools placed in industrial zones when there is oftentimes available land outside urban growth boundaries that is more affordable and makes more sense for students and school districts. In central Washington, school districts like Richland were really depending on this bipartisan solution. Unfortunately, this is another example of bureaucrats in Olympia thinking they know better than locally elected officials who work closely with their school districts.”
Many school districts around the state have struggled to find land within urban growth boundaries suitable for new school construction. Another challenge is land within these boundaries can be expensive and distant from where students live.
“The governor is sending a message that he would rather communities condemn existing housing to free up land for schools in urban growth areas instead of allowing schools to be built on open space outside of the artificial boundary,” said McCaslin. “We had a solution that would have benefited students, schools and local communities around the state. Instead, the governor has indicated his preference once again for the Puget Sound region.”
House Bill 1017 will go into effect later this year.
Nick Jacob, Public Information Officer | 360-786-5097