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Published on Monday, February 4, 2013

AWC priorities in play and your liquor revenue is still on the table

Olympia’s in full session mode, with bills being dropped, sponsors being sought, and coalitions being built. For many of our issues, legislators are in an exploratory phase, with recent hearings held on topics ranging from liquor taxes, to public record requests, to lodging taxes, to city fleet conversion, to transportation. AWC’s advocacy team is focused on meeting with agencies and legislators, testifying in support of your priorities, and ensuring that the city perspective is included in proposed legislation.

The big question that continues to loom over the entire session is the budget. The only official budget currently available for public consideration is the one presented in December by former Governor Gregoire before she left office. It was designed in part to show what’s vulnerable – and cities appear to be particularly vulnerable during this session.

We hear that instead of crafting his own budget proposal, Governor Inslee will set forth “budget principles.” In addition, neither the House nor the Senate legislators are revealing how they hope to craft a budget to address a looming $1–2 billion gap. It seems that Majority Democrats in the House want to first see what the new Senate Majority thinks about the budget. We’re keeping our ears to the ground to glean information as it becomes available.

Believe me, budget writers are looking under every rock for funds to support the state budget. We know that liquor profits and taxes are very vulnerable. We also know that some legislators are looking at programs like the Public Works Trust and Model Toxics Control Act funds to help balance the budget. We need you to talk first and foremost to your legislators about the money you rely on for your general fund and infrastructure projects. They need to hear from you now – often and loudly.

We also are closely monitoring activities in the other Washington as they also grapple with budget issues. Several dozen of our city officials are gearing up to attend a National League of Cities legislative conference in March. AWC is seeking your input on current federal priorities. Please send me your comments and suggestions before your AWC Board of Directors reviews any possible changes at its February 12 meeting.

I hope to see many of you at our City Legislative Action Conference on February 13 and 14 in Olympia. This is your opportunity to learn about the issues and raise a collective voice with our legislature and new administration.