MLK Week speaker urges students voices
By Byron Patten and Chloe Wilhelm - Staff Reporters
Talks to provide funding for the renovation of Building 26 at Highline are back on with the start of the 2018 Legislative session.
Lawmakers failed to pass a capital budget last year, putting $4.1 billion in projects around the state in limbo. Those projects include $23.4 million to renovate Building 26 at Highline.
With this funding, the planned renovation of Building 26 included a 15,000-square foot expansion, as well as a fitness and wellness center, a student lounge, an improved nursing facility, and life science laboratories.
Last year, the budget was approved by the Democratic-controlled House, but the Republican-controlled Senate wouldn't agree with the House's bill because of a dispute over a separate water and development issue.
However, local legislators think that the outcome will be different this year, due to the result of last November's elections when Democrats took control of the state Senate.
Legislators said it is expected that the new budget will remain the same, but they are supportive of the budget and are looking forward to the bill being passed.
"There is an expectation that we won't change the capital budget," said state Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila.
Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, D-Federal Way, also anticipates that the budget will include funding for Building 26, as did a spokesman for Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines.
"I supported the inclusion of Highline's Building 26 in the Capital Budget," Rep. Pellicciotti said. "The House of Representatives has previously passed this budget, and I look forward to the Senate approving this improvement to campus when they approve the Capital Budget."
Rep. Mia Gregerson, D-SeaTac, is also supportive of the funding of Building 26. She said more than 100 hours have been spent trying to move the budget on the Democratic side.
"There is no reason we shouldn't be working towards this," she said.
The bill has been referred to the House Capital Budget Committee, but no action has been scheduled as of Wednesday. Budget bills tends to have later deadlines, so the bill could be moved at any time throughout the session.