VICTORY! Schools Earthquake Safety Grant Bill Approved by State House; heads to Governor Inslee :: NPI’s Cascadia Advocate
Thoughtful and long-awaited legislation that would establish a school seismic safety grant program has completed its journey through the legislature and will soon head to Governor Jay Inslee’s office to be signed into law.
Senate Bill 5933, one of the NPI’s top legislative priorities for 2022, received a unanimous support vote in the House of Representatives minutes ago, weeks after securing a unanimous vote in the US Senate. State of Washington.
Sponsored by Sen. David Frockt (D-46th District: Seattle), SSB 5933 is creating a state-level fund through which schools (especially those in rural areas) can get money to upgrade and replace existing school buildings vulnerable to earthquakes.
All grants would cover at least two-thirds of the total project costs.
Enthusiastically backed by the Northwest Progressive Institute, the Washington State PTA and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, the bill ultimately met with no opposition after being amended by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Fortunately, no one testified against, spoke against, or voted against at any time. It’s nice to see there are still things Democrats and Republicans can agree on, and taking a small step to make sure our kids have safe facilities to learn shouldn’t be controversial. .
“I am very grateful for the bipartisan effort to promote the physical safety of our students and staff,” Superintendent Reykdal said in a statement. “Communities in Washington will benefit from improvements in earthquake and tsunami safety.”
The roll call of the House was unanimous, as mentioned:
School Seismic Safety Grants
3rd reading and final passage
Voting Yes: Representatives Abbarno, Barkis, Bateman, Berg, Bergquist, Berry, Boehnke, Bronoske, Caldier, Callan, Chambers, Chandler, Chapman, Chase, Chopp, Cody, Corry, Davis, Dent, Dolan, Donaghy, Duerr, Dufault, Dye, Entenman, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Gilday, Goehner, Goodman, Graham, Gregerson, Griffey, Hackney, Hansen, Harris, Harris-Talley, Hoff, Jacobsen, Johnson, J., Kirby, Klicker, Klippert, Kloba, Kraft , Kretz, Leavitt, Lekanoff, MacEwen, Macri, Maycumber, McCaslin, McEntire, Morgan, Mosbrucker, Orcutt, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Peterson, Pollet, Ramel, Ramos, Riccelli, Robertson, Rude, Rule, Ryu , Santos, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Shewmake, Simmons, Slatter, Springer, Steele, Stokesbary, Stonier, Sullivan, Sutherland, Taylor, Thai, Tharinger, Valdez, Vick, Volz, Walen, Walsh, Wicks, Wilcox, Wylie, Ybarra , Young, Jinkins
No representative missed the vote or was excused.
The original version of SB 5933 contained a bond-based funding mechanism, but this was dropped in favor of simply authorizing a school seismic safety grant program. The Legislature has yet to fund the program in the capital budget. The Senate proposed $115 million in the supplementary budget for earthquake safety in schools, but the House proposed less than half that amount.
NPI urges the House and Senate to agree on at least the total amount proposed by the Senate as part of their capital budget negotiations.
“We think a more appropriate figure for this supplement would be around $250 million, but we ask that you at least match what the Senate has proposed,” I told the capital budget committee of the House during testimony last week. “Please don’t ‘split the difference’ with the Senate. We have schoolchildren learning in dilapidated and dangerous buildings as we speak – buildings that are vulnerable to an earthquake or tsunami that could strike at any time, with little or no warning.
“Representatives, we are not prepared,” I observed.
“We have known about this threat for decades and have done very little to prepare. Time and time again, inaction has prevailed. We are far behind our neighbors in Oregon and British Columbia in preparing our schools and making them resilient to any geological hazard.
“This situation cannot last. A few weeks ago, we asked voters in one of our statewide seasonal polls if they thought retrofitting earthquake-prone school buildings was primarily a state or local responsibility. . A majority of voters said the state bears the responsibility.
“This finding shows that voters understand that it is the paramount duty of the state to make sufficient provision for the education of all young people within its borders. Not the local school districts, but the state. The legislature must recognize its responsibility and fulfill the obligations of the state as required by the Constitution.
“$45 million is just not enough money for school seismic safety in this supplemental budget. We must act as if the next earthquake could strike tomorrow, because it can. We have a lot of revenue flowing into state coffers right now – let’s spend a good chunk of that money securing safe buildings for our children to learn. Thank you for considering this request.
Our work to ensure adequate funding for our schools continues, but today we can celebrate the Legislature passing a great bill that will give underfunded districts across the state a new strategy to solve the problem of vulnerable buildings. Thank you, legislators, for bringing out SSB 5933!