Bill would use bonds to fund more mental health facilities

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A group of state lawmakers want to ask voters this year to approve $500 million in bonds to pay for mental health facilities and other treatment centers.

Sen. John Braun, a Centralia Republican who sponsored the legislation, says his bill would kick-start a bipartisan effort to build mental health facilities around Washington to take pressure off overburdened Western State Hospital.

The News Tribune reports that Braun’s effort has already won support from some Senate Democrats and other key lawmakers.

If approved by voters, the bonds would not apply to Washington’s constitutionally set debt limit, which governs how much the state can borrow for construction projects.

State Treasurer Duane Davidson, a Republican, say he understands the need for more mental health treatment but is worried about the state’s high debt load.