News Releases

Murray Secures Critical Funding for Central Washington Priorities in Omnibus Conference Report

Feb 13 2003

Secures funds Port of Chelan Tech Center, Wenatchee Valley College, Wine Industry

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -Senator Patty Murray has successfully protected important federal funding for many of Washington state's priorities in the final House-Senate compromise on the Omnibus Appropriations bill.

The conference report is the final step in the year-long appropriations process. The measure is expected to pass the House later today and the Senate either tonight or tomorrow, before going to the President to become law.

Working with her Republican counterparts on the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, Murray retained the funding levels for Washington state projects that she had previously secured in the Senate's fiscal year (FY) 2003 Appropriations bill.

Given that the FY 2003 bill was cut dramatically by the new majority from what Senate Appropriators had passed last year, Murray's success in delivering for the state is especially noteworthy.

"In the face of significant cuts, I am pleased to have maintained this critical federal funding for our state's urgent transportation, health care, and education needs," Senator Murray said. "I know this increased federal support will make a real difference for families and communities in our region."

TRANSPORTATION EARMARKS FOR CENTRAL WASHINGTON:

Pangborn Memorial Airport - Mark 20A Instrument Landing System ($2 million) This airport is in Wenatchee, Washington. The funding will support an advanced navigational system to improve the airport's air traffic control system.

Omak Airport Transponder Landing System ($2 million) This funding will help bring a transponder landing system to Omak Airport to help improve air traffic control and safety. Sen. Murray helped to add funding for this priority during conference.

Richland Airport Transponder Landing System ($2 million) This funding will help bring a transponder landing system to Richland Airport to help improve air traffic control and safety. Sen. Murray helped to add funding for this priority during conference.

City of Union Gap, Valley Mall Boulevard ($1.5 million) The increased frequency of BNSF trains through the City of Union Gap has created traffic safety issues, delays in police and fire emergency vehicle response, air pollution and noise from whistle blowing. This funding will support the construction of a grade separation.

Ways to Work, Central Washington (Yakima) ($500,000) Ways to Work is a national program of nonprofit human service organization serving over million people. Ways to Work, through these family service agencies, partners with community banks to provide small loans of up to $3,000 for automobile purchase or repair to help low-income families access jobs, schools and day care facilities. This funding will help establish a Ways to Work program for the Yakima Valley, which will assist many low-income individuals, especially single mothers, get to and from work, schools and day care facilities.

Yakima Grade Separations ($3.5 million) The increased frequency of BNSF trains through downtown Yakima has created traffic safety issues, delays in police and fire emergency vehicle response, air pollution and noise from whistle blowing. This funding will support the construction of grade separated crossings in downtown Yakima. The grade separation project will cover at least two intersections.

City of Sunnyside, South First Street Reconstruction Project ($1.5 million) This project is a critical part of the City of Sunnyside's Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan. Money will assist in expanding the city's major arterial roadway serving the south part of the community, which will enhance safety and improve use.

Signal Peak Road on the Yakama Reservation ($4.15 million) This funding will support roadway repairs for the Signal Peak Road. This road is the primary route for the Yakama Nation to transport timber to local mills. This road also allows access to a tribal summer youth camp.

Small Bus System (SBS) Grant Transit Authority ($432,000) Replace two 30-foot buses.

Tri Cities Advanced Traffic Management System ($500,000) This earmark was in the House bill. Murray helped protect the funding during conference.

OTHER EARMARKS FOR CENTRAL WASHINGTON

Senator Murray also secured funding for Central Washington community priorities.

Klickitat County PUD New Sewage Treatment Plant ($1,485,000) The requested funds will allow the PUD to replace a 46 year old treatment plant while maintaining affordable sewer rates for town residents, protecting the Klickitat Wild and Scenic River, and providing a vital part of the infrastructure needed for economic development. Without this funding, residents' sewer rates will triple to approximately $95 per month. Klickitat County has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 17.1 percent unemployment, and many residents have low incomes.

The Rural Technology Transfer Initiative $600,000 These funds will help continue to help small landowners use up-to-date technology to maximize timber harvest while protecting important habitat.

Horizons, Inc. UNITE Initiative, Sunnyside ($225,000) Horizons will use the funding to purchase computer equipment at the facility housing the Up-Skill Network and Information Technology Enterprises (UNITE) initiative. The funding package for the facility itself is already in place. UNITE will provide one-stop technology-based education for low-income and underserved rural Americans, including people moving from welfare to work, migrant and seasonal farmworkers, at-risk youth, dislocated workers, and individuals with disabilities. Among other services, UNITE will expand free public access to computers and information technology resources through distance learning and a computer loan program.

Rural and Farmworker Housing Trust, Statewide Initiative ($180,000) The housing trust will use the funding to kickstart its operations. The new organization will raise funding to create affordable housing for farmworkers in Washington state. RAFHT is the result of four years of work between Senator Murray, the Latino community, farmers, and affordable housing developers. Senator Murray has joined with leaders in these communities to address Washington state's tremendous need for safe and affordable farmworker housing. RAFHT's goal will be to raise the tens of millions of dollars needed to build new -- and rehabilitate existing -- farmworker housing throughout the state.

Port of Chelan Community Technology Center, Wenatchee ($225,000) The Port of Chelan will use the funding to complete the construction and development of the Community Technology Center in Wenatchee. The center will serve as a small business incubator and provide education and job skills training with the goal of retaining and attracting technology-based businesses. The project will create an estimated 400 direct and indirect family-wage jobs.

Wenatchee Valley College Institute for Rural Innovation and Stewardship ($180,000) The college will use the funding to complete the construction of the Institute. The Institute will focus on returning vitality to family-based agriculture while encouraging environmental stewardship. Programs will include practicing sound farm management, developing alternative marketing strategies, and integrating applied technology. All farmers, including low-income Latino farmers, will benefit from the Institute.

Walla Walla Watershed ($650,000) The project is a joint effort by farmers, irrigators, tribes, environmentalists, and the Corps of Engineers to increase flows in the Walla Walla river while maintaining water for irrigation needs.

Yakima River Additional Water Storage ($1 million) The funds and new authorization for the Bureau of Reclamation to study the potential of creating new water storage in the Yakima River basin. The study will explore the potential of the Black Rock reservoir proposal.

HAMMER ($5.7 million) Senator Murray has inserted language directing the Department of Energy to continue to fund the HAMMER facility at $5.7 million. DOE had cut the program in its fiscal year 20003 budget request.

Walla Walla Watershed Alliance ($500,000) The Walla Walla Watershed Alliance is a local grassroots organization that includes the irrigation district, farmers, and other stakeholders. With the funding, the Alliance will work with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop a comprehensive irrigation management plan and to demonstrate model farm practices to increase flows in the Walla Walla river while maintaining water for irrigation needs.

Protecting Washington State Tree Fruit from Viruses (Prosser) ($250,000) The NRSP-5 facility at Washington State University's Irrigated Agriculture and Extension Center in Prosser, Washington, is responsible for obtaining and distributing virus-free deciduous tree fruit material to farmers. Rapid foreign and domestic exchange of varieties is essential for the continued economic vitality of the U.S. tree fruit and nursery industries. The facility will use the funding to implement new technologies for more rapid and dependable methods of pathogen detection and to provide secure production and maintenance of virus-free fruit tree cultivars.

Rural Community Assessments ($90,000) The Washington State Rural Development Council will use the funding to help rural communities assess strengths and weaknesses, develop strategies to meet their economic, community, and human service goals, and link them to resources to build on and implement local plans. The Town of Quincy, Washington and the surrounding region recently went through the community assessment process. It was a huge success and this funding will help the council to reach out to many more rural communities.

Protecting and Enhancing Washington's Wine Industry ($850,000) The omnibus appropriations bill includes an $850,000 increase for viticulture research in the Pacific Northwest. The increase includes $150,000 to develop a clean "motherblock" for the Washington wine industry. As the industry grows, it needs a disease and virus-free "motherblock" of plant material. The industry has grown so rapidly that there are growing concerns that farmers are planting grapevine that may contain viruses that could devastate the industry. One of the strengths of our industry is that our rootstock is clean. The research dollars secured will help to build a new, clean rootstock for distribution to existing and new growers. This research will take place at Prosser. The bill also includes $400,000 for the Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research for viticulture research. $200,000 will go directly for research at the center. The other $200,000 will be awarded competitively for collaborative research between WSU, Oregon State University and the University of Idaho.

Enterprise for Progress in the Community, Yakima ($150,000) These funds will furnish six classrooms and a playground at a new community child development center to be constructed in 2003 at the EPIC Place campus in Yakima. This center will serve the unmet early childhood needs of the local community and the employees of the agencies who are co-locating on one campus to improve access to social and health services in the Yakima Valley. Additionally, the local neighborhood will utilize twenty additional Head Start slots that will be placed in the center by EPIC.

Washington State Methamphetamine Program ($3 million) These funds will allow cities and counties to continue to work to fight the proliferation of "meth" labs across the state. Washington state is currently has the second highest number of meth labs in the country. This program relies on an integrated system involving state and local governments, non-profits and commercial entities to combat this problem.

Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups ($1.4 million) These funds will support volunteer salmon enhancement programs.

Parker Water System ($450,000) The town of Parker is working with Yakima County and Yakama Nation to provide clean drinking water to about 100 homes in the area with contaminated wells. Senator Murray supported this in Conference.