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Published on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Don’t use city funds to fill state budget gaps

Statement from the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) in response to a second special legislative session

On May 23, Governor Jay Inslee called a second special legislative session. While all eyes are on the Legislature’s plan to satisfy the McCleary Supreme Court Decision, we cannot forget the importance of Washington’s 281 cities and towns, and their 4.7 million residents. State support is critical for cities to deliver basic public safety, infrastructure that supports economic development, and services to the growing number of those in need in cities large and small.

“As the clock continues to tick toward June 30, revenues that mayors and councilmembers rely on to deliver basic services continue to be in limbo,” said AWC CEO Peter B. King. “We are pleased that both the House and Senate budget proposals contain positive elements for cities and towns, but city officials fear that as the Legislature’s standoff continues, funds cities need will be swept or reduced to fill gaps in the state operating budget.”

“Cities receive $225 million in critical revenues that support public safety and our criminal justice system, and help mitigate the impacts of state-mandated policies. While current proposals keep most of these revenues intact, there are concerning diversions that could harm cities and Washingtonians throughout the state. We need a final budget that upholds the state’s partnership with all 281 cities and fully funds shared revenues. We also ask the state to maintain its historic commitment to public safety by fully funding the state’s share for LEOFF 2 pension obligations and the necessary number of Basic Law Enforcement Academy classes.”

“On a positive note, the Legislature is commended for introducing proposals that maintain a portion of a well-recognized loan fund – the Public Works Trust Fund – that helps local communities take on large sewer, water, and street projects. After years of cutting infrastructure programs in response to the Great Recession and the McCleary Decision, this is a good sign.”