New budget might rescue Bldg 26

By Colin Phan - Staff Reporter

State legislators are considering a special session this December to pass a long-overdue capital budget.

If a capital budget is passed in December, Highline will be able to go out and bid on the Building 26 project as early as March, a Highline official said.

The Building 26 project will turn the 42-year old building into Highline's Health Sciences building.

Last year, Senate Republicans held the capital budget hostage over a water rights issue.

As a result, the legislative session went longer, without the passing of a budget.

State Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, at Highline on Monday, said that the session lasted longer than expected.

"Last session we went really long. We went through July," Rep. Orwall said.

Rep. Orwall is the speaker Pro Tempore of the House, and the fourth highest ranking democrat.

After this month's elections, Democrats control both chambers in the Legislature. This would potentially allow for a budget to be more easily passed in a special session.

Rep. Orwall said that she was contacted to inquire about her availability for a special session in December, but that nothing was imminent.

"It has not been called yet," Rep. Orwall said. "We're waiting to hear back. It hasn't been yet confirmed."

Rep. Orwall said that a capital budget would allow for projects hung up by last year's unpassed budget to resume if a new one were to pass.

State Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Kent, said that a special session wouldn't be a surprise but said nothing was certain.

"I suppose it's possible that the Governor could call a special session once the new Senator in the 45th District is sworn in about Dec. 7 because the Democrats will control both chambers," Rep. Hargrove said. "But I'm guessing they'll just wait until the session starts in the beginning of January. But I could be wrong."

State Rep. Zach Hudgins, D-Tukwila, said that there might be an accelerated effort to pass a budget.

"There may be some ramp-up time. And there may be a delay since some people were laid off of projects," Rep. Hudgins said. "But with funding restored, work would get underway again."

Highline Director of Facilities and Operations Barry Holldorf said that Highline plans to resume work on the project if a capital budget is passed.

"The passing of a capital budget would allow the college to go back out to bid the Building 26 project," Holldorf said.

"What we have to do as a college is now look at the schedule and the windows of opportunity to determine when is the best time to go out to bid," he said.

Holldorf said that Highline is eyeing an opportune timeframe to get the project rolling again – namely when construction can be less of a nuisance for students.

"We are considering late mid-to-late March to go out to bid," Holldorf said. "This would allow us to take advantage of the least amount of students on campus and dry weather for site work outside the building come July."

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