The State Legislature Should Fully Fund the Public Works Trust Fund?

Over the past few budget cycles, the Legislature has greatly reduced the amount of funds available in the PWTF through budget transfers and legislation diverting certain revenue streams. Because the PWTF is a revolving loan fund, such actions continue to undermine the PWTF over time, even though the program is a national model that is widely supported throughout the state. These actions negatively impact job growth, economic development, and regulatory compliance in Washington State. During the recent application process, local governments and special purpose districts submitted over $1 billion in project requests for the available $685 million – even the available funding is inadequate to cover the demand for these basic infrastructure loans.

State investment in basic infrastructure is a strong and necessary foundation for economic growth, and the construction industry has yet to fully recover from the recession. The current mission of the PWTF—to fund essential infrastructure including water, wastewater, road, bridge, and solid-waste and recycling projects—is a vital part of the state’s overall economic-development strategy. According to the Department of Revenue, every dollar invested by the PWTF in basic infrastructure yields an additional $3.60 in statewide economic activity. The more than $2 billion total investment by the PWTF has generated $10.7 billion in gross construction-related economic activity.

These benefits of PWTF investment in basic infrastructure include construction contracts; production, transportation, and purchase of equipment and related goods and services; and purchases made by workers employed on PWTF-financed projects. Without this infrastructure funding, many Washington communities could not sustain, expand, and attract businesses vital to economic development, and could not meet the variety of regulatory requirements under the Growth Management Act, Clean Water Act, and other laws.

The PWTF is one of the rare programs in state government that has broad support from the full spectrum of stakeholder interests – business, labor, local government, and the environmental community.