Unanimous support for County’s focus during 2016 Legislative Session
StoryKing County is calling on Olympia to provide the County with the tools it needs to maintain its role as the state’s “economic engine.” The Metropolitan King County Council gave its unanimous approval to a State Legislative Agenda that will allow counties to expand revenue options to support vital services such as infrastructure and public health throughout the state.
“Our local economy needs basic infrastructure and security – such as transportation and public health – provided in a way that is fiscally responsible, reliable, and certain,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “To meet constant growing demand for services and the impacts of population growth, we need the right tools at the right time with the means to provide them.”
“This agenda emphasizes regional cooperation to support our economy and jobs,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “This includes critical support for roads and bridge maintenance, public safety, health and human services issues.”
“We showed in the last legislative session that we can have success delivering for the people of King County when we partner with the state and region,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “With this year’s agenda we will build upon these partnerships, striving to protect vulnerable populations, deliver the best-run government, and ensure each person the opportunity to thrive and contribute.”
The Council, in collaboration with the County Executive, develop an annual State Legislative Agenda that focuses on the positions that are most important to bring to the attention of the State Legislature. For the 2016 session, the County is stressing regional collaboration in finding the solutions that will allow King County to continue being a hub of economic development, job creation, and healthy communities, which benefits all residents of the state.
“The King County Council is a representative body with a mission to promote the interests and concerns of King County residents,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “This legislative agenda was created with that mission in mind.”
The agenda calls for the Legislature to provide counties with the greater fiscal stability by revising county revenues to acknowledge economic realities and the double-digit growth in county population. The agenda asks Olympia to revise an outdated county revenue cap by factoring inflation and population growth.
“There’s a belief that King County’s growing economy has eliminated the fiscal challenges we faced,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “Our Legislative Agenda is a vivid reminder that those challenges are still there and the lack of revenue options are hurting those still feeling the impact of the Great Recession.”
The regional transportation infrastructure is in crisis throughout the state, impacting the ability of residents to get to work, school, and back home safely, quickly, and affordably. The County is calling for the Legislature to follow up the adoption of the state transportation plan with legislation that develops maintenance plans for aging bridges and roads.
“I’m looking forward to working with the Legislature during the upcoming session. We have many issues in King County that require legislative action to resolve. One of my passions is the repair and maintenance of our unincorporated area roads,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “We cannot solve this broken funding issue without the assistance of the Legislature. I’m hopeful that a solution will be implemented in 2016. Time is not on our side without the work of all those involved. Our agenda is clearly developed and I look forward to lobbying our state legislators.”
The County also recognizes that even with the current economic resurgence, there are still struggling communities in our region, which impacts the health of those residents. The agenda asks Olympia to provide dedicated and sustainable revenue sources to keep residents healthy.
“The Council’s 2016 Legislative Agenda demonstrates our continued commitment to improving the health and welfare of our residents,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski. “To achieve one of our major goals, ending veteran homelessness, we need our representatives in Olympia to make sure that all veterans in the County and across the state are eligible for services like housing, employment and counselling. I am also proud we are prioritizing paid leave for Washingtonians as this is about showing that Washington State is a place that is willing to put families first.”