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OLYMPIA, WA-Gov. Gary Locke is asking state legislators to support a budget that he says will help create jobs and spark the state’s struggling economy, largely through construction projects and subsequent job creation.

“It’s all about creating more jobs for Washington citizens right now,” Locke says. “We can’t wait until the recession is over to take action. That’s why, despite the deep cuts we’ve had to make in the budget, we remain committed to creating more opportunities for Washington businesses and more jobs for our citizens.”

Key elements of the governor’s budget proposal include:

– $311 million in new state facility construction to create 1,100 jobs each year for four years. This investment, made possible by bonding against lottery revenue, is added to existing capital funding;

– $5 million per year for economic development infrastructure that will attract at least $400 million in private investment;

– $20 million for 1,550 higher education enrollment slots in high-demand fields, such as engineering, computer science and health care;

– $250,000 in seed funding to develop a research program in bioinformation; and

– targeted investments in Washington entrepreneurial companies.

The governor’s budget proposal also supports an average of 13,400 construction and related jobs during the next two fiscal years, and 11,000 jobs in the following two fiscal years, by spending $2.5 billion in new public works funding. $311 million of this funding was achieved by bonding against lottery revenues, creating projects that could not have been funded otherwise.

The new funding includes $238 million in new construction at state universities and community and technical colleges and $73 million for K-12 school construction. Examples of the projects that would be funded include expansions, upgrades and renovations at the University of Washington, Washington State University, and Eastern, Western and Central Washington Universities.

Another new element of Locke’s budget provides infrastructure to accommodate private sector expansion. Under Locke’s budget proposal, local governments would be able to finance infrastructure by keeping and using up to $5 million per year in state taxes generated as a result of infrastructure improvements. This program is called Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, also known as tax increment financing. It will be combined with a one-to-one local investment, and then bonded to attract private sector investments of at least $400 million.

Locke will present his budget to the Legislature Tuesday, Dec. 17.

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