(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included millions in funding for projects in Spokane and Eastern Washington in yearly spending legislation. The funding is included in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which provides funding for most federal government programs and targeted community projects for Fiscal Year 2009. The Omnibus bill is separate from the Economic Recovery bill passed by Congress and enacted by Barack Obama last week. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray helped to include millions for important projects and programs in Spokane in the Omnibus bill.
"We are investing in Main Street again," said Senator Murray. "In the face of a deepening recession, this bill puts federal funding back into our communities where it can create and save jobs and address local needs. This funding will improve public transportation, support affordable housing efforts, and train workers for in-demand jobs in Eastern Washington. I'm proud to work to return Eastern Washington taxpayer dollars to projects in their own backyard."
The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill will fund projects for the remainder of the 2009 Fiscal Year which runs until September 30th, 2009. The federal government is currently operating under spending levels passed for Fiscal Year 2008 because President Bush refused to sign many 2009 spending bills last year and Congress was forced to pass a continuing resolution. The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill was unveiled today and is expected to be passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in the coming weeks.
The following projects were included in the bill in the Eastern Washington region:
Nursing School, Washington State University - $1, 047,000
This funding will be used to complete research laboratories and purchase research, instruction, and communication equipment at the WSU Spokane Riverpoint Campus. Last year, Senator Murray was able to secure $1,288,097 for this project. According to a recent article in the Spokesman Review, there are more than 110 job openings for registered nurses in the Spokane area. This funding will help to properly train students to help fill those positions and others currently vacant throughout Washington state.
"This funding will provide tools to train the nurses that are so badly needed in Spokane and throughout our state," said Senator Murray. "It will allow nurses to learn in a hands-on manner and will better prepare them for the quick decisions they'll have to make on the job. As more nurses retire and more baby boomers begin to access care, this investment is more important than ever."
"I am so pleased to hear of this investment in nursing and our healthcare workforce," said Dean Patricia Butterfield. "Students face extremely complex situations in hospitals and community clinics. In the past the nursing profession relied primarily on lectures to help students learn. Now we know that students learn more effectively when they participate in clinical simulation exercises. We like to say that simulation exercises help students to think on their feet, instead of their seat."
Community Colleges of Spokane - $271,000
Washington State University's Nursing facility (Magnuson Building) will transfer to Community Colleges of Spokane (CCS) in winter 2009, allowing CCS to expand capacity to train more Physical Therapist Assistants and Occupational Therapist Assistants. However, the Magnuson Building will need to first be remodeled. This funding will assist in the remodeling process. There are no Occupational Therapist Assistant training programs currently in Eastern Washington. Local employers have been surveyed and indicate an immediate and future need for workers with these skills. These are high wage/high demand occupations with average wages exceeding $20/hour.
"There is a real need in the Spokane area for physical and occupational therapists and this funding will help to train workers locally," said Senator Murray. "This will mean more family wage jobs in Spokane and more health care access for area residents."
“The Magnuson Building represents a unique partnership of state, federal, and local organizations coming together to support the region’s economy, expanding capacity to train workers in allied health which is so important to our region,” Community College of Spokane Chancellor Gary Livingston.
Spokane County Medical Society Foundation - $95,000
Project Access is a physician-led community partnership of coordinated charity care that creates access to physicians and hospitals, and provides prescription assistance. The volunteer network includes 850 physicians, Spokane hospitals, and allied healthcare providers. Project Access is the only network providing the full range of healthcare to low income individuals in Spokane County.
"This funding will support Project Access - a program that serves the health care needs of Spokane's most vulnerable residents," said Senator Murray. "I commend the many physician volunteers who make this program possible and I am proud to support their selfless efforts to provide care to those who can't afford it."
"As a physician, I refer patients to Project Access, and also donate my services to Project Access patients," said Spokane area Dr. Brian Seppi. "As a member of our community, I am proud of my fellow physicians and other healthcare providers for stepping forward to help make Spokane a better place to live."
University Place Pedestrian Safety Overpass, City of Spokane: $475,000
This project is a pedestrian and bicycle bridge that will travel through downtown Spokane and connect the University District Riverpoint Campus with housing, commercial and retail venues. In addition to the critical safety improvements this bridge will provide, it will also drive mixed-used residential, retail and commercial development both on campus and in the adjacent neighborhoods south of the campus.
“Providing connectivity between the University District’s education and technology facilities, the neighborhoods south of the railroad, and the hospital and health care delivery complex is key to leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars in university investments at the campus and in other important housing, retail and commercial development for Spokane and this region,” said Mary Verner, Mayor of Spokane.
City of Spokane Homeless Rapid Rehousing Initiative, Spokane: $142,500
Over the last two years, the City of Spokane, housing providers, the business community and concerned citizens have formed a partnership to address the loss of affordable housing in the downtown core and other neighborhoods. The Rapid Rehousing Initiative funding will help ensure the Spokane community has the resources it needs to relocate individuals and families who are losing their housing, thereby preventing homelessness.
Inland Pacific Hub Analysis Project, Spokane Regional Transportation Council: $237,500
Washington State is expected to accommodate an increased amount of international freight in the coming years. This project will determine the economic impact and job creation potential of developing an inland port. The analysis will assess the ability of Spokane to develop an intelligent transportation hub that would attract more global commerce in the region. It will also create a plan to coordinate with regional partners.
YWCA of Spokane, Spokane: $475,000
The project will help fund the creation of a Unified Youth Development Programming facility which will be located in a neighborhood where the nearest elementary school currently reports 73% of students receive free or reduced lunches. Demand for services is growing, particularly from lower income populations seeking child-care, domestic violence and homeless family services, skill development, and a safe place for teens to spend time.
“Spokane now has the opportunity to put resources into nourishing and protecting our children’s potential,” Monica Walter, Executive Director, YWCA of Spokane.
Northeast Community Center Expansion Project, Spokane: $475,000
Funds will help implement the third phase of the Center’s expansion to include Partners for Families and Children. This new partner provides child abuse medical treatment, prevention education, and substance abuse counseling for parents. This addresses a critical issue in Northeast Spokane, the area with the highest percentages of Child Protection Service referrals of any zip code in the multi-county region served.
Pullman Transit Vehicle Replacement, Pullman, Whitman County: $1,288,200
This funding will enable Pullman Transit to replace five of its oldest buses with five new low-floor buses. These new buses will allow for the continued reliability of existing service and allow Pullman Transit to transport more riders with only minimal increases in operating costs.
Freight Transportation Policy Institute, Washington State University: $475,000
The overall mission of this freight transportation policy institute is to conduct economic policy analysis useful to policymakers as well as guiding the research efforts in the field. It will be a premier research institute in the Pacific Northwest, focusing on the emerging policy debate associated with energy, infrastructure pricing and economic development. This will be accomplished by developing intellectual capital combined with emerging transportation modeling technologies.