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Massive investments in public safety, transit, and housing headline approved 2023-2024 King County Budget


Massive investments in public safety, transit, and housing headline approved 2023-2024 King County Budget


The King County Council on Tuesday approved a $16.2 billion budget to fund King County for the next two years. The 2023-2024 biennial budget includes funding for clean energy, affordable housing, public transit, protecting the environment, improving community safety, behavioral health and more.


The King County Council on Tuesday approved a $16.2 billion budget to fund King County for the next two years. The 2023-2024 biennial budget includes funding for clean energy, affordable housing, public transit, protecting the environment, improving community safety, behavioral health and more. 

“Put simply, this budget delivers for communities and families throughout King County,” said Budget Chair Joe McDermott. “We’ve made critical investments in community safety, equitable recovery from the pandemic, and enhanced the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight as the Sheriff’s Department moves to using body-worn cameras. The budget reflects our values well.  The plan is set, now the work begins.”

Highlights of funding in the budget include:

  • $220 million to convert Metro to all-electric buses by 2035
  • $166 million to fund affordable housing near transit centers, supportive housing operations and coordinated crisis response efforts to homelessness
  • More than $50 million to fund environmental improvements and protections, including restoring fish passage habitat, removing nitrogen and chemicals from wastewater, and expanding access to heat pumps and solar panels for homeowners in unincorporate King County
  • $55 million for community safety, including efforts to reduce gun violence, new Metro transit security and community engagement staff, body worn cameras for King County Sherriff’s deputies, creating pathways away from jail for our youth and more.

Building on the strong initial proposal put forth by Executive Dow Constantine in September, councilmembers worked to ensure the budget added key funding for pandemic recovery, public safety, and human services. Council changes added roughly $76 million to the original proposal of $16.14 billion. Some of council’s added provisions include:

  • $35 million Equitable Recovery Initiative, including funding for supportive housing, homelessness support and behavioral health and economic recovery.
  • $6.2 million to safeguard against inflation increases for human services providers, including those providing homelessness, housing and gender-based violence services.
  • $3.6 million for Metro to serve riders now, improve rider experience, clean transit centers, enhance community safety and expand neighborhood engagement.
  • $1.1 million to increase the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight staffing by 55% to ensure robust accountability investigations and community engagement
  • $950k funding for youth programs in detention centers: provide behavioral health, skill-building and safety-enhancing services and staffing for juveniles in detention, including a gang intervention specialist, community-led programming, group and individual therapy sessions, staff trainings and other behavioral health services.
  • $1.8 million in MIDD programs including sexual assault and domestic violence services, art mental health therapy, Naloxone distribution, and RADAR.
  • $24.7 million in new capital investments, including the Little Saigon Community Center, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation Canoe House, Muslim American Youth Foundation Community Center, Children’s Home Society of Washington Resource Center, Fall City Community Center, Hanwoori Garden in Federal Way, and more.

Full budget documents can be found here.

Additional quotes:

Councilmember Rod Dembowski: "I'm proud of the work we have done to adopt a budget that reflects our values and priorities: safer communities, housing our unsheltered neighbors, protecting our environment and responding to the needs of those most impacted by COVID. The budget is balanced, protects our financial reserves, and helps ensure we maintain our top-tier bond rating, which saves taxpayer dollars. It's been a privilege to serve on this year's Budget Leadership Team and I thank the public and my colleagues for their thoughtful engagement in our budget work."

Councilmember Girmay Zahilay: “It took a ton of work to get this budget adopted, and I want to thank our staff teams, my King County colleagues, and the whole community for their collaboration. Our efforts will support critical needs in our region, from affordable housing to behavioral health to economic opportunity. This budget is an investment in our home to ensure that the people of King County have the services and opportunities they need to survive and thrive.”

Councilmember Sarah Perry: “I'm grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such outstanding King County colleagues, both on staff and on Council, as well as with the highly effective and principled King County Executive, Dow Constantine, in developing this strong and responsive 2023-2024 biennial budget. The persistent economic and social challenges brought by COVID-19 must be addressed in this budget to effectively regain and maintain our economic and social stability, including focus on environmental protection and preservation, sustainable and accessible transit, public safety, behavioral health, and services and programs for those with the least historic investment such as our BIPOC communities and rural areas. The 2023-2024 budget honors and deepens the County's commitment to ensuring access and opportunity to those without sufficient income, housing, and healthcare to enable all King County residents to live stable lives. I look forward to continuing to uplift King County's values in supporting initiatives toward a more economically viable, equitable and sustainable future where everyone can thrive.”

Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles: "Our region continues to face many serious challenges, from homelessness to behavioral health to a growing income inequality and from climate change to public safety, and much more,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “The budget we passed today invests creatively in solutions and policies aimed at alleviating these challenges so that King County residents are able to afford housing, access justice and live safe, healthy lives. I'm pleased that this budget reflects our county’s commitment to lead with equity and social justice, and I am confident it will lead to better outcomes for individuals, families, workers, and communities across the county. Thanks to Budget Chair Joe McDermott and his team for their thoughtful leadership in this budget process.

Council Chair Claudia Balducci: “King County residents are facing the challenging reality of a post-pandemic world and need a county budget that meets our quickly evolving needs and priorities. I’m proud that our budget invests in critical infrastructure and programs, from housing and homelessness to transportation to a healthy environment to public safety. These investments will help to keep King County livable and sustainable, and to address the challenges facing our residents so they, and our region, can succeed."

Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer: “The 2023-2024 King County budget reflects the effect on public service of our exploding growth; based on population, our county would be the 37th largest state in the nation.” 

Councilmember Reagan Dunn: “Given the possibility of more tough economic times on the horizon, I’m pleased that King County is taking the fiscally responsible actions of maintaining our cash reserves and maximizing our rainy day fund. By putting aside these emergency dollars, we are well-positioned to continue to provide critical services in the case of an economic downturn. At the same time, this budget puts much-needed funding into public safety and substance use disorder recovery, addressing two of King County's most urgent issues of the day.”

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