Lewis and Thurston county lawmakers tried to amend the budget to save Maple Lane School, but couldn’t muster the votes in the House this evening.
The juvenile detention center in Grand Mound would close in the budget, saving about $6 million.
Republicans backed Democratic Rep. Brendan Williams’ amendment, but he couldn’t get much help from his own party, and it failed on a 45-52 vote. Williams then became one of a few Democrats to vote against their party’s budget.
A consulting firm’s 2009 study concluded that closing Maple Lane is a bad idea because the state lacks other space for juvenile offenders.
Rep. Richard DeBolt, the GOP leader whose district includes Maple Lane, predicted juveniles there — many with mental health problems — would end up in Green Hill School in his hometown of Chehalis, which he said has more dangerous offenders.
DeBolt noted his 20th District is represented entirely by Republicans.
“I hope they’re not playing with kids’ lives for political purposes,” DeBolt said.
Rep. Kelli Linville said today that majority Democrats minimized politics by looking closely at the consultant’s report, even if they didn’t always follow its suggestions.
She pointed out that the budget would close Pine Lodge prison near Spokane, home of Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, one of the state’s most powerful Democrats.