Naselle Youth Camp included in Senate proposed budget plan

On Tuesday, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus released their budget plan for the new biennium. Senate Bill 5048 includes the funding needed to keep the Naselle Youth Camp open and operating. Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, has been a vocal proponent for keeping the successful rehabilitation camp for at-risk youth open. The Governor's budget proposal, issued earlier in the year, would have shut the camp down. Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, who serves as chief budget writer in the Senate and sponsored the budget that protects funding for the camp, says Walsh's work was instrumental in getting the camp added to the Senate's proposal.

“The Naselle Youth Camp in Pacific County offers a unique and potentially life changing opportunity for young men who have made mistakes in the past, but can have a productive future with the right intervention and training,” said Braun. “Rep. Walsh has been a tremendous advocate for this program that the governor proposed cutting. I want to send a strong message to the community and employees that this is a beneficial program we ought to protect.”

The Senate's proposed budget will take center stage during the next several weeks of the legislative session. The $43 billion, two-year budget, spends about $5 billion more than the current budget. It puts an additional $1.8 billion towards education, paid for, in part, by a statewide property tax that would replace local district levies. It also relies on about $200 million in transfers from other accounts and spending cuts in some state programs. The full chamber could vote on it as early as Thursday.

The House will soon follow with their formal budget proposal. Walsh testified before both the House Appropriations and the Senate Ways and Means committees requesting the treatment center for young male offenders stay open.

“This is what representing the 19th Legislative District in Olympia is all about. We're a rural area. But that doesn't mean we have to take a back seat to other parts of the state,” said Walsh. “I intend to fight for good policy and good budgets that help my neighbors and constituents. I'll keep on fighting to make sure that rural Washington has a strong voice in Olympia.”

The Governor's 2017-19 operating budget proposed transferring at-risk youth from the Naselle Youth Camp to Green Hill School in Chehalis or Echo Glen Children's Center in Snoqualmie. The camp is run by the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Established in 1966, Naselle Youth Camp is the main employer for the town of Naselle. According to a 2010 census, the town population is just over 400. The Naselle Youth Camp includes more than 100 employees and can hold up 81 juveniles.

“Naselle Youth Camp is important to the local economy in the southern part of Pacific County,” continued Walsh. “But, more than that, it's an important asset in our state's juvenile rehabilitation 'toolbox.' The staff there does good work for the kids at the Camp and for all of us who live here. Anyone who cares about this part of the state—or giving meaningful second chances to at-risk youth—should support this budget package.”

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn the regular session on April 23.


Washington State House Republican Communications