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Unions want $2 billion in construction bonds

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Nov. 15, 2011 at 8:00 am with No Comments »
November 15, 2011 7:26 am

Washington unions want state lawmakers to ask voters for more tax revenue to stave off deep budget cuts, but that’s not the only thing they want on a spring ballot.

The State Labor Council also is pushing for a bond measure to stimulate the job market through construction on state, college and public-school buildings, on storm-water pollution control projects and more, all across the state. The Legislature can’t borrow more under the state’s constitutional debt limit, but voters can go around the limit.

The goal: $2 billion in bonds.

That would be on top of the Legislature’s two-year, $1.1 billion bond budget, which is constrained by the debt limit, and would go toward many of the same purposes. It would be roughly four times the size of a bond measure for energy-efficient school upgrades that voters rejected in 2010. As on that measure, Democratic Rep. Hans Dunshee is expected to take the lead on it.

Union leaders said they learned a lot from the failure of Referendum 52 — “Hans bonds” to Capitol denizens — and believe voters will be more supportive of a broader array of projects, especially with the economic downturn lasting longer than most thought it would and the construction industry remaining among the hardest hit.

The council says it hopes the bonds will be approved in the emergency session starting Nov. 28 or early in the regular session starting in January. That way they could go on the April 17 ballot.
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