Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Economic Development News Conference
December 12, 2002

Good afternoon. Thank you for coming.

I am here today to talk about jobs.

As you know, next week I will be presenting my proposed state budget. It meets the challenge of a $2 billion deficit resulting from the national recession.

The budget represents a fundamental change in state budgeting.

The budget will reflect our Priorities of Government. We’re focusing on what matters most to Washington citizens.

To balance the budget there will be deep and painful cuts. But we can’t talk about resolving our budget difficulties without addressing economic recovery. And jobs are the key to economic recovery and development.

In spite of substantial budget cuts, now more than ever, we must continue to support job growth. We must continue to stimulate investment in business and economic development.

Both the Washington State Competitiveness Council and the Washington Economic Development Commission strongly recommend that we maintain and expand these efforts. And we will.

Today I would like to share with you key new elements of the budget. These elements support jobs and our state’s future economic development and vitality.

We plan to support an annual average of 13,400 construction and related jobs over the next two fiscal years, and 11,000 jobs in the two fiscal years that follow. We will do this by spending $2.5 billion in new public works funding.

This total includes $311 million in new funding, much of it for construction of facilities on our colleges and universities. This new funding is made possible by using lottery revenue dedicated to education construction. The projects will include:

· $223 million in new construction at universities and $312 million at community and technical colleges. We will fund these projects through bonding against lottery revenue and general obligation bonds.

· $365 million in public school construction.

· $306 million in construction of 876 high-security prison beds and 100 intensive management units for problem prisoners. Additional construction will include juvenile, mental health and developmental disabilities facilities, low-cost community housing, and care for veterans. We will fund these projects through General Fund state bonds.

We must continue to generate and support good jobs in Washington. And we will.

We must also maintain and build the foundation for private sector expansion. Accordingly, new elements of the budget include infrastructure funding. We will fund construction of sewer and water systems, clean up contaminated sites, and finance other necessary facilities for businesses and workers.

Under our proposal, local governments will now be able to finance infrastructure by keeping and using up to $5 million per year in state taxes generated as a result of economic development projects like business parks and downtown revitalization efforts.

The money would be used to provide up front improvements.

This new program is called Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE. It will be combined with a one-to-one local investment, to attract private sector investments of at least $400 million.

We must invest in infrastructure to support business growth and a healthy economy. And we will.

Generating good jobs and supporting economic growth requires a highly skilled and educated workforce. Another new element of the budget is that we will add $20 million in higher education funding to create 1,550 enrollment slots in such high-demand fields as engineering, computer science, and health care.

Our state’s businesses continue to need these critical skills. Graduates with these skills get good jobs and help support our economy. We must invest in our workforce and support good jobs in these promising fields for Washington workers. And we will.

We will also continue to support technology-based businesses. We will continue to launch such businesses through the Washington Technology Center and the Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute.

Another element of our budget proposal is to continue to provide $8.8 million in seed funding in this area. The funding will include $250,000 in new funding to launch businesses in the emerging field of bioinfomatics. We must invest in our promising industries of the future. And we will.

We will also continue to support entrepreneurial companies in our state. Currently, the State Investment Board has invested, as an owner, more than $1.5 billion in Washington businesses. I have asked the State Investment Board to develop policies that promote additional targeted investments in Washington companies consistent with the Board’s fiduciary obligations.

A 1% increase in targeted investments for Washington businesses, roughly $500 million, could provide the necessary venture capital for promising Washington businesses. This could generate greater earnings, tax revenues, and more family wage jobs in Washington. We must support promising entrepreneurial companies that will help enrich our state’s future economic vitality. And we will.

Let me review—we are proposing these new elements:

· $311 million in new construction to create 1,100 jobs each year for four years

· $$5 million per year to local governments for economic infrastructure development that will attract at least $400 million in private investment

· $20 million for 1,550 higher education enrollment slots in high-demand fields

· $250,000 in seed funding to develop a research program in bioinformation

· More targeted investments in Washington entrepreneurial companies

We must continue to support economic recovery and future development, even as we address today’s budget issues. And we will.

In summary, we’re focused on jobs for Washington workers – and improving the economic vitality of our state. With this budget, we’re making economic development a high priority. We have a strategy. We’re on course.

Thank you.

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