The Washington State Legislature adjourned on July 20th without passing the $4.1 billion 2017-’19 capital budget. The State hasn’t been without a two-year capital budget in recent times. Because this turn of events is so unusual, let’s examine the impacts more closely.
The capital budget pays for constructing state-authorized projects across Washington. Examples of projects funded include the planning, construction and renovation of public schools, parks and other state facilities.
It can also include state assistance to local capital projects. Transportation projects are funded via the transportation budget and are generally not impacted by the capital budget.
Another Special Session, or 2018 Session
Usually the State Treasurer’s Office would issue debt to fund many of those approved capital projects.
No new debt for these new capital projects will be issued, of course, until after a new capital budget is passed by the legislature.
It’s unclear when a new capital budget will actually be passed.
Once agreement is reached by legislators, a special session could be called to pass this budget.
That could take place in the days ahead – or it may not happen until the next regular legislative session, in 2018.
Existing Capital Budget Projects Not Halted
The lack of a new capital budget to date, shouldn’t impact capital projects that had been approved in previous years, for which construction is still taking place.
Many projects in the capital budget take longer than the two-year budget cycle to complete.
In this case, the appropriations that were approved for the project in a previous budget are reauthorized to be spent in the current budget period.
To underscore: not halted by the lack of a new capital budget are existing ongoing capital projects. These are the ones where the funds were previously approved by lawmakers and remain at least partially unspent; and which were then re-authorized.
New Capital Projects Depend On New Capital Budget
In contrast, potential new capital projects won’t be able to receive financing until they are approved by the legislature.
How long they might be delayed depends on the circumstances of the individual project, and exactly when a new capital budget is indeed passed.