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Published on Friday, March 4, 2016

Join AWC leaders today in asking legislators to fully fund city priorities!

As both sides of the Capitol rotunda face a March 10 deadline to negotiate supplemental operating, capital, and transportation budgets, AWC leadership from both sides of the state asked them to address key city fiscal needs. Add your voices by calling or emailing your legislators again, or for the first time this session, it could make a difference on whether the state budget:

  • Fully funds the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC);
  • Avoids cost increases for cities that send officers to the Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) and funds the two additional classes requested by CJTC to address the current back log;
  • Maintains use of the longstanding Fire Insurance Premium Tax to help nearly 50 cities meet retirement and medical benefits for LEOFF 1 law enforcement and fire fighters; and
  • Keeps the LEOFF 1 retirement system strong

On March 1, AWC President Paul Roberts from Everett and Vice President Jim Restucci from Sunnyside sent all legislators a letter reminding them that our state needs strong, diverse, and prosperous cities to allow them to meet their obligations. Likewise, our communities need their attention and support to meet ours.

Preliminary operating budget adjustments adopted in both the House and Senate were done so on party-line votes, and we hope key negotiators can find common ground to pass budgets with a degree of bipartisan support, similar to final budgets adopted last year. With this being a very divisive political year at both the national and state level, crafting such budgets could prove elusive.

For cities, the House supplemental operating budget is generally preferable because it doesn’t include cuts or diversions contained in the Senate budget. It avoids such actions by including some tax exemption closures and use of a portion of the state’s Rainy Day fund, or Budget Stabilization Account. The Senate’s version includes neither. Instead, it makes selective cuts and diversions, some of which are detrimental to cities.

During these final days of the 2016 session, we will keep you updated through our March 9 electronic CityVoice newsletter. If absolutely necessary, we will issue an Action Alert. Following adjournment, we will send out a brief summary of actions or inactions pertinent to cities. This will be followed by a full summary of what happened and an outlook for the 2017 legislative session in our annual Final Legislative Bulletin.