House Finance Committee Chairman Reuven Carlyle is calling on the governor to spell out how the state will pay for a proposed $4.2 billion plan to bring more water to the Yakima River Valley.
As explained in a Seattle Times story on Sunday, the proposal would be the biggest thing to hit the region since the Grand Coulee Dam was completed in 1942. It was tentatively endorsed by the Legislature earlier this year. Among other things, the plan calls for fish passages on dams, new and bigger reservoirs, and a 5-mile-long tunnel to move water between lakes.
“It is fiscally irresponsible to take another step until there is a financing plan,” Carlyle, D-Seattle, said in an interview this morning.
He sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday asking his office to develop one, pointing out that, although backers say farmers and other water users will pay for their share of the project, there’s nothing in writing that spells that out.
Carlyle in an interview also said he’s worried that the federal government won’t come through with funding and that the state will be made responsible for the entire cost.
“This is one of the largest of the largest public works projects in state history with nothing beyond a back-of-the-envelope scribble of how to pay for it. We’re not going to empty out the capital budget account for the next 30 years because the federal government can’t rub two sticks together,” he said.
The governor’s office had no immediate response.