The 2010 Washington Legislature spent nearly 3 weeks in overtime session to work out state spending and revenue decisions. A combination of budget cuts and mostly temporary tax increases provided for a balanced budget, but not without a fair amount of wrangling between lawmakers. In the waning moments of the session, HB 2561 (JOBS Act) passed both House and Senate and was sent to the Governor. This bill was NEEC’s highest legislative priority and was the only significant job creation effort passed in the 2010 session. HB 2561 provides the authority for the state to issue $505 million in bonds for competitive grants to public K-12 schools and public colleges and universities for investments in energy efficiency in their existing buildings. The funds are expected to be leveraged with both utility incentives and with local capital to create up to $2 billion of energy efficiency construction projects over the next 5 or more years. The job creation potential of this effort is estimated to be in the range of 30,000 jobs. NEEC worked for more than a year on this legislation in close concert with the bill sponsor, Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish). NEEC’s governmental affairs specialists, Noah Reandeau and Cindy Zehnder, worked to assemble an impressive coalition of 48 stakeholder organizations to support the bill. Even with all of this, its passage wasn’t secure until the final hours of the session. There is need to keep at least one champagne corked, however, as the bond measure must pass a public vote in November to become law (see article below). It is also notable that a separate $100M was appropriated in the state’s capital budget which does not need voter approval and will be made available for this same purpose (K-12 schools) as early as this summer.
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