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Published on Thursday, February 27, 2014

Senate budget leaders seek to cut city liquor taxes again. Voting as early as noon today, February 27

For more up-to-date information, please see this article.

On Monday afternoon, the Senate released their supplemental state budget proposal. On Wednesday afternoon, it was the House’s turn. Both proposals are modest in terms of the state’s more than $33 billion two-year operating budget. The Senate proposal increases spending for the remainder of the biennium by $95.7 million. The House proposal increases spending by $173 million.

For the first time in several years, state revenues match the adopted budget, and there’s even slightly more to spend. Why then more cuts to city and county liquor taxes? Apparently, a majority of Senators don’t think you need the money or waste what you get. If you don’t agree – let your Senator know!

Senate proposal breaks commitment on local liquor taxes, may give locals marijuana revenue

Instead of enacting a promised technical fix to last year’s state budget, the Senate proposes to cut the $24.7 million in local liquor taxes by approximately $7 million more. These proposed cuts largely take place in the second year of the state’s biennial budget, and cities would start seeing cuts with their October 2014 distributions.

The Senate proposes to potentially give cities and counties $5.2 million in marijuana revenue to offset some of this cut. However, cities and counties would only get a distribution if $5.2 million in marijuana revenue is raised for the state’s general fund by June 30, 2015. Under current law, marijuana revenue must be distributed to a number of designated programs before any money goes to the state general fund. This means cities and counties would only get the $5.2 million if there is enough after the other distributions. Also, this is one-time revenue for locals, and distributions, if any, may not happen until the middle of 2015.

The Senate proposal also includes:

  • $500,000 to implement a no-buy database related to recent legislation on scrap metal purchasing.
  • $300,000 to county drug enforcement and prosecution in three areas involved in a previous pilot program.
  • A requirement that cities and counties pay 25% of the cost of sending corrections personnel to basic training at the Criminal Justice Training Commission.
  • $70.5 million in additional resources for the Water Pollution Control Revolving Loan program administered by the Department of Ecology.

House proposal maintains city liquor taxes, no marijuana revenue for locals

The House’s budget proposal makes the technical fix needed to local liquor taxes, and through October 2015, cities will continue to get quarterly distributions in similar amounts to what is being distributed now. The House does not propose to share any marijuana revenue with cities and counties.

The House proposal also includes:

  • $200,000 for a data collection expert and a mediator to implement a process to develop solutions for maintaining the greatest level of access under the Public Records Act with the least impact to government resources and operations. AWC supports this funding.
  • $70.5 million in additional resources for the Water Pollution Control Revolving Loan program administered by the Department of Ecology.
  • $25 million for flood hazard reduction grants.
  • $25 million for stormwater retrofit projects that reduce toxic water pollution.

Your legislators need to hear from you again!

  • Ask your Senator to support the technical fix to liquor taxes as promised in this letter. Section 918 of the House budget proposal maintains this commitment.
  • Emphasize that cities need marijuana revenue to address local impacts with all of your legislators.

Legislator contact information

Senators: Phone numbers, emails
Representatives: Phone numbers, emails

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