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Published on Friday, June 28, 2013

State balances budget in part by slashing close to a quarter of a billion dollars for cities

The Association of Washington Cities is extremely disappointed to learn that state budget negotiators have apparently decided to slash close to one quarter of a billion dollars in key infrastructure and public safety funds for cities. The news came as over 400 city officials gathered in Kennewick this week for AWC’s 80th annual conference.

While awaiting details and legislative action, it appears:

  • The state legislature is transferring to the general fund, most of the Public Works Trust Fund. This much utilized, long-admired loan program allow cities, as well as counties and utility districts, to build and maintain the facilities that keep our communities functioning. At risk next year are already-planned loans totaling $231 million to 66 cities and towns across the state.
  • The legislature also plans to cut in half – by $25 million – the amount of liquor taxes shared for more than 80 years with cities. These monies are used to fund police and firefighters and help respond to the social impacts of liquor consumption. Cities are particularly concerned with the state's withdrawal of support at a time when liquor sales are increasing, the number of retail outlets have quadrupled with liquor privatization, and our communities are about to experience additional public safety challenges resulting from marijuana legalization

We appreciate continued legislative interest in considering new transportation revenues and local funding to help fund much-needed road and other transportation services in cities across the state. We hope the Senate and House can find common ground on this important matter.

While very concerned about these diversions, we look forward to continuing a dialogue with the Governor and legislators about how to rebuild and strengthen the partnership between cities, where two-thirds of our citizens live and work, and the halls of our state Capitol where these types of critical decisions are made.

More information about the budget proposal’s impact on cities is posted here. We’ll provide an update on any changes after the budget is passed.