Funding for Chehalis Basin, behavioral health lead list of 20th District investments in state’s new capital budget

OLYMPIA… State government’s capital budget for 2023-25 has full legislative approval after receiving unanimous support today from the 49-member Senate. Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, says the new spending plan will invest almost $133.5 million in the 20th Legislative District, including $70 million for property- and habitat-protection efforts in the Chehalis River Basin and $21 million for new behavior-health slots at Maple Lane.

The $8.98 billion plan, approved by the House of Representatives yesterday, is the smallest of the three biennial budgets that must be passed by lawmakers before the 2023 legislative session ends – but the investments it makes are often among the easiest for taxpayers to see and touch, as they often involve construction and other land-related projects.

“The success of the Chehalis Basin Strategy depends on a major, long-term commitment of funding from Olympia. This new capital budget represents another big step forward,” said Braun.

The additional spaces at Maple Lane are critical to expanding access to behavioral-health services, he added.

“Mental-health services and substance-use treatment are a part of the answer to the epidemics of violence and drug overdoses, and the rise in homelessness. Those all fall within the Senate Republican priority on public safety. Maple Lane has been part of the social and health services infrastructure in our state for a very long time, and this funding supports the beginning of a new chapter for that facility.”

The 20th District spans parts of Thurston, Lewis, Cowlitz and Clark counties. Each is represented on the list of projects in the new capital budget.

Overall, the state capital budget (Senate Bill 5200) appropriates a total of $9 billion in spending, including nearly $694 million for affordable-housing projects; $872 million for K-12 education projects; $1.5 billion in total funding for higher education; $884 million to address behavioral-health needs; and $2.4 billion for natural-resource projects that address water quality and supply, salmon recovery, outdoor recreation and conservation, state parks, state trust lands and more.

Braun called out the support for housing projects as being a better approach than the $4 billion housing scheme pushed by Gov. Jay Inslee this year. The capital budget includes $2.5 million for the Lewis County Homeless Shelter in Chehalis.

“Affordability is another Republican priority for this session, and housing figures very prominently in that. The governor equates billions more for housing as being the solution to homelessness. Clearly there is a need for more housing, as well as more shelter for people who are living on the streets, but that needs to be coupled with policies that lower the cost of constructing homes and get at the root causes of homelessness, like drug use,” Braun said.

“How this new capital budget approaches housing makes far more sense. It’s not just about housing that low-income people can afford, but about adding to the housing supply. That’s crucial to affordability.”