December 16, 2011

State Priorities Included in Appropriations Bill

The appropriations bill that provides money for two-thirds of the federal government’s agencies, approved today by Congress, includes various funds for Washington State priorities, including Puget Sound cleanup funding, continued support for Boeing military programs and for replacement of schools at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks said. 

The congressman, who serves as the top-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the bill funds nine federal departments including the Pentagon as well as the Departments of State, Interior, Homeland Security, Veterans Administration, Labor, Energy, Health & Human Services and Education.  Annual funding bills for several of these agencies had previously passed the House but today’s approval represents the final House-Senate compromise version of the budgets for these agencies through the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2012.

Among Boeing’s major military programs funded in the budget are the Navy’s P-8A maritime reconnaissance aircraft, utilizing a Renton-built 737 airframe and the new KC-46A aerial refueling tankers which will be built in Everett based on the Boeing 767 platform.  For this fiscal year, the bill provides $2 billion for production of 11 P-8A aircraft and $877 million for the continued tanker engineering and development work that precedes the eventual production of 179 of the Air Force’s new tankers. 

In addition, the defense bill continues an effort Rep. Dicks launched last year to rehabilitate and replace deficient schools on military bases including Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where six schools operated by the Clover Park School District are scheduled for replacement.   The defense bill also funds the Impact Aid to Education program that compensates school districts such as the Pierce and Kitsap County areas in which large federal installations diminish the local tax base. 

The budget for the EPA was also approved within the bill passed today, including another $30 million to continue the agency’s Puget Sound restoration program.

And the bill appropriates more than $500 million for construction projects at the state’s numerous military bases in the current year, Rep. Dicks noted, including $240 million at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, largely for facilities related to the location of a new combat aviation brigade at the base. 

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