Proposed spending plan maintains public safety and human services, while preserving strong bond rating and County reserves
StoryThe members of the Metropolitan King County Council’s 2013 Budget Leadership Team said today that their proposed 2013 King County Budget meets current challenges and makes strategic investments that prepare the County for the future.
“The budget proposed by the leadership team makes strategic investments to save the County money in the long-run,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee and leader of the Budget Leadership Team. “By seeking departmental efficiencies, helping individuals in need, and increasing accountability, we have put the County in an excellent position to prosper.”
The $7.6 billion budget proposed by McDermott and the members of the Budget Leadership Team—Councilmembers Kathy Lambert, Julia Patterson and Jane Hague—was approved unanimously by the Council’s Budget Committee.
“This budget emphasizes responsible fiscal management that maintains our credit rating at the highest AAA level, which gives us the lowest debt service costs,” said Lambert, Vice Chair of the Budget Leadership Team and Chair of the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “We also were able to maintain funding for the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program that benefits children and families caught up in the legal system, using trained volunteers to represent the best interests of a child in custody cases. Funding for an additional staff position will allow coordination of CASA volunteers to work for the best outcomes for kids. I also am pleased we were able to eliminate the vast majority of staffing cuts proposed for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which already has absorbed reductions in recent years. It is important to preserve the ability of the prosecutor’s office to respond to criminal justice needs.”
“Our budget addresses the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities, and also prioritizes fiscal responsibility and increased efficiency,” said Patterson. “This budget is in line with King County’s commitment to equity and social justice, and I believe it represents the compassion of King County residents.”
“This budget is the right mix of financial common sense and care for our community,” said Hague. “These important programs and efficiencies are all based in our county’s strategic planning efforts.”
The proposed budget contains a $685 million General Fund Budget, of which 73 percent is directed toward public safety and criminal justice programs. Even as the County continues to feel the effect of the Great Recession, the proposed budget would maintain the County’s AAA bond rating by not using the County’s cash reserves or tapping the rainy day fund.
The budget introduced by the leadership team today incorporates the goals of the King County Strategic Plan, maintains a commitment to equity and social justice, and continues the County’s efforts to provide services in an efficient and cost effective manner.
The leadership team’s proposed budget does not enact the Executive’s vehicle license fee proposal. The proposal before the full Council highlights the urgent need for a comprehensive state transportation package that addresses maintenance for local roads and transit service.
Key proposals include:
• $1.3 million of one-time funds to countywide regional service organizations to help shore-up the health and human services safety net. These funds support domestic violence shelters, legal aid, services for sexual assault survivors, post-incarceration education, and housing services.
It will also support a coordinated, comprehensive approach to the issue of human trafficking. The leadership team’s proposal requires the sheriff and Public Health-Seattle King County to lead a countywide effort to address human trafficking. The collaborative approach will find and support victims, develop successful suppression strategies, identify strategic investment opportunities, and provide additional shelter beds. These efforts will help take youth off the streets and away from prostitution.
• Leveraging the Affordable Care Act by requiring the Executive to assess and propose an integrated health and human services plan.
• Preserving funding and staffing levels for the superior and district courts and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. This will allow the ability to file criminal cases in a timely and judicious manner and supports the diversion of low-level adult and juvenile cases from the criminal justice system.
The budget striker now goes to the full County Council for adoption. The Council is scheduled to consider and possibly vote on the 2013 Budget at its Tuesday, November 13 Council meeting.