AIA|WA Testifies in Support of Design Funding in Capital Budget

The House Capital Budget Committee held its first hearing of 2010 on the Governor’s supplemental Capital Budget.

The news was not encouraging for architects, engineers and contractors who do public work. Because of lowered revenue the capital budget about $500 in the hole for the current biennium. More concerning is that the Governor is proposing to take another $157 million out of construction and put it into the state’s general fund programs.
Every $10 million dollars spent on building construction typically requires 160,000 labor hours and creates 285 full-time, family wage jobs. With private sector construction at a standstill, we need the state to protect its public construction dollars and invest them in design and construction jobs.

Also concerning is that the Governor is not proposing to rectify the inequities in the budget toward design projects. Design projects were disproportionately cut in the 2009-2011 Capital Budget. Depending on the numbers used, design was cut between 50% and 75% from the previous budget.
AIA|WA testified at the hearing to encourage lawmakers to consider the impacts of such low design funding. If design is not funded now, then construction projects will not be ready when the economy improves and there is money to be spent. Starting from scratch it takes three to four years to move a project through design to construction.
The design professions employ more than 37,000 workers with an average annual wage of $71,491 (in 2008). Total wages were $2.65 billion from 2,956 firms. However, 2008 was the height of design employment. Since August 2008, employment had dropped by more than 4,200 design workers.
This is just the direct employment of design professionals. Also affected are office support staff, consultants, interior designers, computer aided drawing (CAD) technicians, drafters, construction cost estimators and many more. Adding in these workers would multiply by many times the impact of the current recession on the industry.
AIA|WA will continue to advocate for restoration of design projects not funded in the current budget.

You can view the hearing at www.tvw.org.

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