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Rainier School in Buckley ducks veto, gets $3 million

Speaker of the House Frank Chopp and Gov. Chris Gregoire - Courtesy photo
Speaker of the House Frank Chopp and Gov. Chris Gregoire
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s veto pen was poised to strike out $3 million earmarked for capital improvements at Rainier School in Buckley when some last-minute phone tag changed her mind.

The funds had made it through the Senate with the help of 31st District Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, and the House budget with the help of Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Greenwater, and Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw.

The representatives received a call from the governor’s office April 23, informing them the $3 million would be vetoed by the governor.

“After I got off the phone I called (House) Speaker Frank Chopp, (D-Seattle),” Hurst said. “He is tenacious.”

Chopp, who toured the Rainier School grounds in November, told Hurst he would make the call.

“Fifteen minutes later I got a call from the governor’s office,” Hurst said. “He said the speaker won. The governor is not going to veto the $3 million.”

Hurst said if it were not for Chopp, the Plateau economy would have lost the $3 million for improvements to the school, which serves the developmentally disabled community.

“This is critically important as a commitment to the longevity of Rainier School and the Buckley economy,” Hurst said. “This is the best possible care for the state’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Dahlquist said, “This is the right thing to do for the residents and the people of Buckley.”

The representative stated the $3 million will give a boost to the economy of Buckley and the Plateau.

Roach said when she received the call that the governor would not veto the funds she began to cry because she was both relieved and happy.

The senator has been a longtime defender of the school and said she will continue to fight for the funds to keep Rainier open.

Hurst said the Rainier School issue has “never been a partisan issue. Sen. Roach and Rep. Dahlquist have been great partners.”

The $600,000 in the budget for a long-term vision study for the school may be vetoed. According to the governor’s office, the funds are part of the operating budget and the governor stated she will veto it. She is expected to take the action today, Wednesday.

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