Lowry signs legislation to fund public works projects statewide

MOUNT VERNON - A $3.5 million loan to the city of Mount Vernon to finance sanitary sewer and storm sewer projects is included in a public works financing package signed into law today by Gov. Mike Lowry.

The two local proposals are among 67 infrastructure projects awarded throughout Washington under the state's Public Works Trust Fund. House Bill 2256, which the governor signed today, will allow for a total of $96.8 million in loans to finance such projects as county road improvements, seismic retrofitting of bridges, and water system construction.

The governor said the funding will help local communities address significant, often long-standing problems.

"A lot of these projects have a direct effect on people's health and safety," Lowry said. "These loans will help ensure that the water they drink is pure and the roads they drive on are safe."

The Public Works Trust Fund is an innovative, nationally recognized infrastructure revolving loan fund designed to help governments finance critical public works projects. Projects are selected by the state's 13-member Public Works Board, which makes project recommendations to the Legislature. This year, 111 applicants requested $160.9 million in state funds.

Established in 1985, the program provides low-interest loans and technical assistance to eligible local governments in Washington state, including counties, cities, and special purpose districts.

During the morning ceremony, Lowry also signed into law a measure that will standardize health benefits for part-time community and technical college instructors. In addition, Senate Bill 6583 requires that a task force study and make recommendations on ways to best provide academic employee benefits.

Citing budget concerns, the governor vetoed an emergency clause in the bill that would have caused the legislation to take effect immediately. Instead, Senate Bill 6583 will take effect June 5, 1996.

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For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790. For a complete list of approved public works projects, contact Betty Lochner at the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, 360-753-4282.