Legislators: Don’t raid city coffers to balance the state budget

State legislators, do not balance your budget at the expense of city government. You’ll end up hurting the very people we are elected to serve.

TOO often in recent years, the state Legislature has adopted budgets that balance the books in Olympia by compromising funding for city programs and services that support law-enforcement efforts or maintain our local streets and neighborhoods. Lawmakers have cut liquor-tax distributions, capped other liquor revenues intended for public safety, and diverted funding from local infrastructure programs. By shifting revenues and cutting basic programs, legislators are compounding reductions that were made in prior state budgets.

On behalf of more than 30 mayors, we urge state legislators to remember that the final budget they negotiate will have a profound impact on the services and infrastructure cities provide. These services touch the everyday lives of residents that we, city elected officials and state legislators, represent together.

We are concerned that lawmakers may balance the books in Olympia at the expense of cities once again. Lawmakers in the Senate propose to shift the state’s share of pension costs for some police and fire retirees to cities and counties, creating an additional $70 million liability for local governments. This is the equivalent of laying off 350 police officers or firefighters statewide.

In addition, lawmakers in the House propose to reduce the city and county shares of revenue generated from the sale of marijuana, despite an overall increase in marijuana revenues of more than $250 million. This revenue is intended to help cities ensure the lawful sale and use of marijuana, while addressing any negative impacts that might occur.

Besides shifting revenue…

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