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Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Gov. Gary Locke Promotes ‘Jobs Now’ Plan, Transportation Package in Lewis County

Gov. Gary Locke today visited Lewis County as part of a statewide “Jobs Now” tour, promoting his economic recovery plan to create jobs now, spur the state’s economy and build for the future.

The governor participated in the Lewis County Council’s monthly economic development breakfast, where he led a roundtable discussion with area civic and business leaders. Locke also promoted Lewis County transportation improvements included in the transportation legislation he signed this session. Those improvements include a $71 million I-5 lane-widening project, which would add a lane in each direction from Rush Road to 13th Street in Chehalis and construct an interchange at Labree Road in Chehalis. The $71 million also includes $31 million for the Chehalis River Basin flood control project.

The state transportation-improvement package also includes $73 million to widen I-5 in south Thurston County, from Grand Mound to Maytown. This project, combined with the $71 million in Lewis County, will reduce traffic congestion and improve freight mobility through this portion of the busy I-5 trade corridor.

Locke today also toured expansion projects at Centralia Community College, including the newly completed Education Complex, the Health Sciences Annex and the Sciences Building. Many of the expansion projects received valuable assistance from the state capital budget. The $2.57 billion capital budget passed by the Legislature this session is similar to the capital budget that Locke proposed last December. It is expected to create 13,400 construction and related jobs in the next 24 months and 11,000 such jobs in the following two years.

“I’m pleased that we are able to direct significant new funding to put thousands of people to work,” Locke said. “These jobs will support families and contribute to our state’s economic recovery.”

The package contains $580 million to build higher education facilities at state universities and community and technical colleges. The measure also offers $399 million in state matching funds for public school construction, including $32.9 million for enhanced matching funds.

The governor today also visited the Twin City Senior Center in Chehalis to promote prescription drug legislation that he signed into law last month. The legislation (Senate Bill 6088) calls for the creation of a “preferred” drug list for state agencies, an information hotline to assist consumers with prescription drug-related issues and directs the state’s Department of Social and Health Services to seek a federal waiver to design a Medicaid drug assistance program.

In negotiating prescription drug price discounts for state agencies, the state’s Health Care Authority will also be required to negotiate discounts for any Washington resident who is at least 50 years old, whose family income does not exceed 300 percent of the federal poverty level and whose existing prescription drug need is not covered by insurance.

Locke today also promoted his seven-point economic recovery plan, which focuses on:
· Creating thousands of new construction jobs through building new schools, higher education facilities and public works projects;
· Capitalizing on Washington’s competitive advantage in international trade;
· Promoting state businesses and improving the climate for new business;
· Giving communities more effective tools to build Washington businesses;
· Promoting Washington’s emerging technology strengths;
· Improving education to create and fill skilled jobs for today’s competitive marketplace; and
· Pushing Congress and the President for an economic stimulus package that helps our state’s workforce.

The governor began his “Jobs Now” tour in February. He has made stops in Bremerton, Wenatchee, Bellingham, Vancouver, the Tri-Cities, Mount Vernon, Seattle, Ilwaco, Everett, Grays Harbor, Klickitat County and Port Angeles. He plans to visit several other cities around the state in the coming weeks.

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