My 2021-2022 proposed biennial budget

Dear fellow King County employee,

Today I transmitted my 2021-2022 proposed biennial budget to the Metropolitan King County Council.

It is a budget driven by our values, our anti-racism agenda, and the needs of our community. It tackles homelessness, transforms the criminal legal system, invests in our communities and community engagement, preserves and protects more of our region’s land and water, and continues our fight against climate change. It strengthens our equity and inclusion efforts, and purposefully incorporates an emphasis on racial justice and anti-racism.

Some of the highlights include:

  • A proposal for the King County Council to enact a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to fund a $400 million investment in permanent housing for the chronically homeless, providing a place to call home for about 2,000 people.
  • A package of proposals that transforms the criminal legal system and funds ongoing work to confront racism as a public health crisis. These include divesting $4.6 million of marijuana tax revenue and shifting these funds from law enforcement to community-based programs, and a $6.2 million investment in “Restorative Community Pathways,” which will see the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office refer up to 800 young people to comprehensive, community-based services by 2022-2023 in lieu of filing charges.
  • Investments in unincorporated King County, including $10 million in seed funding for a community center in Skyway, $25.6 million for open space conservation, $8 million for parks improvements, and $6 million for new, flexible Metro transit service in Skyway
  • Funding for key environmental priorities, including approximately $150 million in Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) plant improvements that plan and build for the system’s future needs; $88.2 million in combined sewer overflow and green stormwater infrastructure; approximately $87 million for Eastrail, East Lake Sammamish Trail, the Foothills Regional Trail, and others; and at least $72 million in Conservation Futures Tax revenue for forests, farmlands, and open space.

My budget also serves as a springboard for the next steps in our internally focused pro-equity and anti-racist work, and I look forward to sharing more details with you in the coming weeks.

It hasn’t been an easy budget, and was developed against the backdrop of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. While the budget includes the loss of nearly 450 County positions in 2021-2022, we have been able to limit the number of layoffs to under 50 through a combination of eliminating unfilled positions and employee participation in the Voluntary Separation Program.

Transmitting my proposed budget is the first step in a two-month public process, leading to Council adoption in November of a final County budget. You can watch a recording of my budget address here, and read the full transcript and press release here.

This year, 2020, will surely be remembered as one of the most pivotal of our lifetimes. How we act, what we do, the choices we make, the commitments we fulfill, will define us – not only now, but to generations to come. In the budget I presented today, I have laid out bold policies that reflect our common values, and hold us to the standards of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “The time is always right to do the right thing.”

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Dow Constantine
King County Executive