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Council adopts state legislative agenda that focuses on increasing revenue options, sustaining safety net

Summary

Federal agenda to concentrate on funding for programs that support County Strategic Plan

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council today adopted legislative agendas that will direct King County’s efforts on both a state and federal level toward protecting underserved communities while supporting a regional transportation grid in need of renovation and restoration.

“The challenges facing Olympia and Washington, D.C. have a direct impact on how King County can serve its residents,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “The adopted agendas are clear directives from both the Council and the Executive on what the County’s priorities are and how we plan to work with our delegations to achieve those priorities.”

“The proposed reorganization of the State Senate is evidence that the public’s wish to find meaningful solutions is being acknowledged,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “This is our opportunity to collaborate on our critical joint challenges including roads and transit, human services, and safety issues.”

Each year King County develops a State Legislative Agenda and a Federal Legislative Agenda with the Council and the County Executive working together to decide on the positions that are most important to bring to the attention of the State Legislature and Congress. For 2013, the State Legislative Agenda will include:

Sustaining Health Care, Housing, and Human Services
The County is committed to preserving a wide range of basic services that provide a safety net for its residents: maternity support, mental health, public and primary health care, substance abuse, domestic violence prevention, housing and services for low income and homeless persons, food assistance, and disability including developmental disability services. Cuts at the state level often compound those from the federal government, and that magnifying effect is appreciable. King County welcomes opportunities to preserve efficient and effective safety net programs through funding tools that can be implemented at the local level.

Resources for Transportation Needs – Funding, Tools & Flexibility for Transit & Roads
Funding mechanisms supporting both roads and transit are fundamentally flawed, and the County struggles to provide basic levels of service. New state revenues and local financing tools should prioritize resources for preserving local and regional roads and bridges, sustainable funding sources for public transportation, and giving regions flexibility to make investments to meet their economic development needs. King County supports additional direct state support for local and regional needs, as well as local revenue tools to augment the state’s direct investment.

Preserve Existing Authority & Additional Local Revenue Options and Flexibility
Local governments need increased access to existing and new revenue tools in order to maintain and improve core services and quality of life in the face of decreasing support from the state and federal government. The County must both preserve its current revenue authority and gain additional flexibility within existing mechanisms. Financial partnerships between the State and local governments like the annexation sales tax credit are built on a mutual trust and provide critical flexible resources. Counties also seek new councilmatic and voter-approved revenue tools to accommodate additional demands and services shifted to counties.

Consolidation of Special Districts’ Governance into County Government
The County is looking for consolidation of the King County Ferry and Flood Control Zone Districts’ governance and oversight into the County. The consolidation could achieve considerable efficiencies and savings that could translate to greater deployed services. While urging consolidation, it is critical that the existing property tax authorities supporting the Districts each be maintained separate from the existing County’s general taxing authority, in order to preserve the resources necessary to support these critical public safety and transportation & mobility services for county residents without expanding the Districts’ current scope of authorization.

“New funding mechanisms for roads and transportation will be a high priority during the 2013 legislative session,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who co-chairs the Legislative Steering Committee of the Washington State Association of Counties. “Our transportation infrastructure and regional mobility are major keys to the economic vitality of the county and the state. The funding strategy set up by the state Growth Management Act 20 years ago did not anticipate such a rapidly dwindling number of residents in the unincorporated area who fund the roads. Thirteen percent of our population cannot afford to fund more than 1,500 miles of roadway. It is essential that local governments have access to equitable, adequate and sustainable funding tools to maintain our roads and buses.”

“Without help from the state legislature, the region will face massive transit cuts in 2014 when current temporary funding runs out,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “A permanent, stable funding source for transit as well as tools for bolstering our economy and protecting the environment, are top priorities in the 2013 legislative agenda.”

“Meaningful solutions to issues related to human services, flooding and transportation are only identified when King County and Olympia work together,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson. “I look forward to collaborating with our legislators in Olympia next year.”

“It will be a dynamic 2013 legislative session. It’s my hope the Legislature will us help us deliver better roads, improved transit and improved services to King County residents,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, chair of the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee.

“Combating gang violence, maintaining our transportation infrastructure, and preserving basic human services are critical goals for the upcoming legislative session,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson. “State and local government must work together to keep the public safe and keep our region’s economy moving.”

With a new Congress being sworn in next month, King County is also prepared to ask their state’s Congressional Delegation to work on a number of issues. The Fiscal Year 2014 agenda focuses on programs that support the King County Strategic Plan, the organizing framework for the County’s operations and measurement of its performance:

Justice and Safety: Support safe communities and accessible justice systems for all
Youth:
King County seeks resources to protect and support our children through opportunities like Juvenile Connections & Mentoring and the LEAP Program, child support enforcement, and Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grants, which provide evidence-based services and community policing to improve the accountability of youthful offenders through collaborative partnerships with other agencies.
Domestic Violence: King County supports the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and its programs, which provide important services for survivors of violence and abuse, give law enforcement, prosecutors and judges the tools they need to hold offenders accountable, and offer investments in the prevention of abuse and the promotion of safe and healthy communities.

Health and Human Potential: Provide equitable opportunities for all individuals to realize their full potential
Health:
King County supports continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as well as preservation of the Public Health & Prevention Fund and the Health Centers Program, which ensures access to care for the safety net population. We seek to protect funding for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention that affords activities related to chronic diseases like tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV/AIDS. King County supports a Farm Bill that protects against hunger by ensuring adequate resources for federal nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program, whose recipients use benefits to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets.

Economic Growth and Built Environment: Encourage a growing and diverse King County economy and vibrant, thriving and sustainable communities
Transportation: Robust, multimodal mobility through both directly distributed and competitive federal funds is critical to the economic growth and community livability of the County. The County continues its commitment to and support for funding to preserve aging roadway infrastructure, maintaining existing transit mobility while growing bus rapid transit systems, and developing essential non-motorized transportation connections, such as a pedestrian overcrossing connecting the transit-oriented development at the Northgate Transit Center –and Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail– to North Seattle Community College.

“Our top priority is making sure those most in need and our robust and dynamic economy flourish,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “This legislative agenda focuses funding on keeping our communities safe, improving our infrastructure, and preserving sustainable health and human services.”

“The State and Federal Legislative agendas are vitally important to the work we do in King County,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “It is important that the County Council advocates for the citizens we represent.”


Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Fax:
206-296-0198