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Strengthening vital services, transportation options and investing in community assets highlight King County’s state legislative agenda | King County
Facing the continuing challenge of providing services to a growing number of people who need them, the Metropolitan King County Council gave its support to a state legislative agenda that seeks to restore funding for vital human service programs.
Under the specter of transit service reductions and roads turning to gravel, the council continues to call on the legislature for local revenue options that will provide the financing needed to maintain vital transportation infrastructure.
Each year King County develops a State Legislative Agenda with the council and the county executive working together to decide on the positions that are most important to bring to the attention of the State Legislature.
For 2014, the county stresses the economic impact King County has on the state of Washington. The agenda states that reductions in funding and policy changes on both a state and federal level have had an impact on how the county can deliver services to its residents and that the county must be given the ability to prioritize critical regional needs.
For 2014, the State Legislative Agenda will include:
State support and local tools for the safety net
· Restoration of $7.4 million in cuts to King County mental health and substance abuse programs in the 2013-15 biennial budget, based on an assumed Medicaid fund shift that cannot be materialized in King County. Inpatient bed space is currently insufficient, with dozens of people each night on hold in local emergency rooms. This cut will exacerbate this problem.
· Adjusting the Mental Illness & Drug Dependency levy to better meet the needs of people suffering from mental illness and addiction, including extending the MIDD supplantation language at 30 percent by postponing the planned 2015 stairstep down to 20 percent as originally outlined by state law.
· Ensuring that any state actions to comply with federal Medicaid procurement rules for mental health services as currently provided by Regional Service Networks is compassionate and effective for people suffering from mental illness.
Delivering on transportation and achieving growth management goals
· A call for local revenue options, as well as additional direct state support for local and regional needs, including rural roads and regional transit.
· Suitable public services for unincorporated areas – through annexation or interlocal agreement – remains a priority for King County. Revenue options beneficial to annexation.
Investing in community assets
· King County supports the Cultural Access Fund and other local tools for the arts.
· King County requests flexibility in administration and investment of hotel/motel revenues, including – with fiscal prudence – bonding for housing and tourism capital needs while protecting revenue streams for ongoing operating expenses. Hotel/motel arts funding would remain unchanged.
The legislative agenda also calls on the state to clarify and integrate the medical cannabis and recreational marijuana statutes to better support effective law enforcement, land use laws, and public health objectives such as deterring youth access.