The Washington State House of Representatives passed a capital budget today that includes around $94 million in various projects for Spokane County, including a popular project near Fairchild Air Force Base critical to the base’s long-term viability.
The spending plan, often referred to as the state’s “bricks and mortar” budget, includes $1.5 million for the purchase of mobile home parks within the Accident Potential Zone, the area beyond the clear zone of a runway that poses a risk of accidents. This development is an encroachment on the base area, which could be considered during the next round of base closures.
Although Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, does not serve directly on the Capital Budget Committee, his role as the assistant ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee keeps him involved in budget negotiations at all levels.
“I am pleased that we are able to provide support to the armed service men and women in our community,” said Parker. “Perhaps the greatest thank you we can give to all those who have served is doing our part in furthering and protecting the mission of Fairchild Air Force Base and positioning it for the future.”
The House Capital Budget Committee held a public hearing Monday and passed the proposal Tuesday. The committee left the funding for the Fairchild project intact.
“Fairchild Air Force Base is a community asset that must be protected,” said Rep. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney. “This project moves us one step closer to ensuring the Accident Potential Zone is clear and base operations can continue with a higher degree of safety.”
This project has been met with broad support throughout the Spokane community.
“Greater Spokane Incorporated has been a long-time advocate for the protection of Fairchild Air Force Base because it is one of the largest economic drivers in the greater-Spokane area. Through Forward Fairchild, we’ve worked closely with business and non-profit partners in Spokane County and the City of Airway Heights to ensure the future of this vital piece of our economy. The funding obtained for this project will reduce encroachment around Fairchild, and will create a more secure future for the base,” said Steve Stevens, GSI President and CEO.
“We here at Fairchild Air Force Base are grateful for the outstanding support to our base, our Airmen and our mission shown by the Spokane community and beyond,” said Col. Charles McDaniel, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “The Fairchild legacy moves forward only with the support of our local and regional community.”
The budget proposal passed the House 96-2. Once the Senate passes its capital budget, the two sides will hash out their differences in a conference committee.
The 105-day 2015 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn April 26.