Editorials and other voices call on lawmakers to pass a capital budget, find a solution to the Hirst water rights uncertainty

Days after lawmakers left unfinished business behind them in Olympia, opinion leaders are calling for them to continue work on the capital budget and finding a solution to the state Supreme Court’s Hirst water rights decision.

The Seattle Times editorial board writes the Legislature needs to fix the capital budget fiasco.

The capital budget must be approved — and soon — even though that will require Gov. Jay Inslee to call a record fourth special overtime session.

The third overtime session ended with a whimper because the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-led House could not reach compromise on a necessary but complicated change to state water policy.

This dispute is exacerbated by grudges from a session that has dragged on since January, including Inslee’s veto of a manufacturing tax credit included in the earlier, bipartisan deal on the operating budget.

The editorial notes the importance of the capital budget, which funds school construction and mental-health facilities among other construction projects across the state. The Associated Press reports that the Department of Natural Resources believes the failure to pass a capital budget puts forests at risk.

An editorial in the Everett Herald also calls on legislators to resolve the two issues

Even though the session is over and lawmakers have headed home, talks are expected and should continue on a deal. Gov. Inslee on Thursday night said he would call lawmakers back to Olympia once an agreement is struck.

After a long and arduous session — one that produced some major bipartisan breakthroughs on funding for education, mental health, paid family leave and more — lawmakers’ failure to reach a deal on Hirst and pass the capital budget is deeply disappointing and leaves us thirsting for leadership.

Both papers believe a temporary Hirst fix should be satisfactory; Senate Republicans and others disagree, saying a permanent solution is necessary to restore certainty. Shannon Affholter, executive director of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties makes the case for a permanent Hirst fix in an Everett Herald op-ed.

The 2016 Hirst decision has effectively halted many people from building their homes in areas that depend on well water. The ruling has created a great deal of uncertainty for counties, rural communities, builders and families across the state. As legislators leave town, the hardship on affected property owners will continue without being resolved…

Some lawmakers pushed for a temporary fix that would only assist those whose projects have been in the pipeline and ready to proceed, prior to the Hirst ruling, but are now unable to build. The challenge is that anything short of a permanent fix would be inadequate and would only perpetuate the extreme financial burden facing rural land owners.

Planning, land use, real estate development and homebuilding are long-term processes that require a permanent solution to achieve predictability.

He points out a temporary solution would create lingering legal uncertainty and urges lawmakers to continue work on a permanent fix.

Association of Washington Business president Kris Johnson also expresses disappointment with the conclusion of the session without a capital budget, Hirst fix or an override of the governor’s veto of manufacturing tax relief

“The state can and should do all it can to lift up the economy in every corner of the state. Even today’s unemployment data illustrates that while the central Puget Sound region and a couple of other pockets around the state continue their economic boom, many parts of rural Washington are still waiting for any sign that the recovery will expand to reach their towns and communities.

“While we appreciate the efforts of the Legislature in the waning days of the last two sessions, we’re disappointed that more wasn’t done to shore up the economic health of the majority of rural counties that are home to families in need of good-paying careers that private-sector investment and economic development would bring. We encourage lawmakers to continue working to fix the Hirst decision and to provide needed tax relief for small manufacturers.”

It’s been an arduous session, one marked with significant accomplishment. We also urge lawmakers to continue discussions and bring the unfinished business to a successful resolution.