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Senate to consider school bonds

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 11, 2013 at 8:30 am |
February 11, 2013 1:23 pm
GRANT ELEMENTARY RAIN BUCKET_2
Repair projects on schools’ wish list include this leaky roof at Grant Center for the Expressive Arts in Tacoma.

Republicans and their two Democratic allies plan to seek approval on the Senate floor today for $544 million in K-12 school-construction funding.

The vote would come a day before public votes on bond measures in Tacoma, Puyallup and other school districts. “We’d like to kind of send a message (that if school districts) are going to invest, the state’s going to be there with their match,”  Puyallup Sen. Bruce Dammeier said.

Typically the Legislature approves a capital budget near the end of its annual session, containing bonds and cash to pay for construction, repairs, environmental projects and land purchases — funding school districts, colleges, parks and more. This year, the Senate’s new majority coalition wants to remove the K-12 piece and approve that first.

They would need 60 percent of the Senate and House to go along in order to borrow the money for the bonds that would make up most of the package. That seems likely, given the unanimous vote in the Ways and Means Committee for the bill.

Of the bonds, $10 million would be devoted to school safety improvements. Lawmakers are reacting to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

“It’s caused all of us, and particularly the education policy members, to say, what can we do to protect our kids?” said Dammeier, who is taking the lead on the separate bill that outlines what schools are supposed to install with the $10 million, including a panic-alarm system. That measure is also due for a floor vote today.

UPDATE 1:25 p.m.: The construction-bond measure passed unanimously, 47-0.

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