StoryMetropolitan King County Councilmembers Julia Patterson and Larry Gossett released this statement after today’s defeat in the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee of their proposal to ask voters to renew the Veterans and Human Service Levy two years early and expand the levy to support public health programs:
“We are disappointed that, by voting against the renewal of the veterans and human services levy, our colleagues did not allow the voters the opportunity to fund health and human services programs. Today’s vote means that, during our budget process this fall, we will need to take devastating cuts to criminal justice, health and human services. Those cuts will result in sickness, crime and the inability to keep the community healthy and safe.
“What’s at stake because we didn’t send a ballot measure to the voters?
• First, the 143,000 people who visit our public health centers—127,000 of which are below the poverty line—are at risk of losing care. This will result in higher health care costs for us all because people will be going to emergency rooms when their conditions become chronic, and that cost will be passed on to us.
• Second, cuts to our general fund will result in our inability to adequately address issues such as communicable diseases and emerging health threats.
• Third, a loss of human service programs will drive some to despair and crime—which means we’ll be paying TEN TIMES as much when they become part of the criminal justice system.
“We didn’t ask our colleagues to support a property tax increase. We asked them to give the voters a choice, allow them to weigh in, and allow them to prioritize.”