Shabro touts vote to save surplus land

Rep. Jan Shabro today said one of the most important victories of the 2004 session came in the final hours prior to adjourning. Shabro successfully halted Washington State University from taking ownership of 160 acres of timberland out of Rainier School's 700 acres of surplus land. Saving the land could save the school from losing over a million dollars in revenue.

"I was truly stunned when I found out that the capital budget took away promised revenue from a trust fund for the disabled community," said Shabro, R-Lake Tapps. "I discussed the value of the timber with an expert in the timber industry, and was told that the value of the timber on the 160 acres likely over a million dollars.

"That's a significant amount of money in a fund to support the disabled community," Shabro said. "Especially since our state is still facing financial difficulties, the trust fund is an important promise to fill gaps in funding we aren't able to fund now."

In 1981, the Legislature transferred control of property from the Rainier School that was used for agricultural land to WSU for use as a dairy research facility. While the transfer gave WSU "cognizance and control" of that acreage, the state, and therefore Rainier School, still owns the land and has ultimate control over the use or sale of the land. By maintaining state ownership of acreage with Rainier School, then the timber harvest proceeds or revenues from a land sale could go into a trust fund for the disabled.

"I plan on drafting legislation next year to make sure surplus land revenues associated with developmentally disabled institutions are placed in a trust fund that will enhance programs for the disabled," said Shabro. "We can't risk any future 'land-grab' attempts."

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