State Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Bellevue, visited recently to talk about the most recent revenue forecast (a shortfall of $1.2 billion to $2 billion) and provide some background on what can and can’t be cut when the Legislature goes into special session in November.
As chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Hunter is one of the Legislature’s main budget writers. So it’s worth mentioning that he said one revenue saver would be to move the Special Commitment Center for violent sex offenders off McNeil Island.
That’s been discussed before, but now seems all but inevitable with the closure of the state prison on McNeil. There still are a lot of transportation and security costs involved with having the SCC on an island that wouldn’t be as steep on the mainland.
Last November, I predicted that the prison closure would lead to the SCC being moved – but to Western State Hospital, which has empty wards due to cost-cutting. Hunter says his preference would be to move the center to the closed Maple Lane juvenile facility near Rochester/Ground Mound in Thurston County.
As a neighbor of WSH in Lakewood, I’d prefer to see the SCC at Maple Lane. However, I suspect many of the people who work at the center now would prefer the WSH site to avoid having to drive or move to the Maple Lane site south of Olympia.