Published on Apr 10, 2019

Three budget messages to deliver to legislators

Contact: Candice Bock

With less than three weeks left until the Legislature adjourns, we are at the point in the legislative session when the real budget negotiations begin. Reach out to your legislators now to communicate key city budget messages and ask them to talk to their budget leaders about standing up for cities' needs in the final version of the budget.

Each chamber has its version of the operating, capital, and transportation budgets. Budget writers are currently working on a final compromise for the three budgets.

3 key messages to deliver to your legislators about the final budget

1.

Thank them for protecting state shared revenues to cities
Thank legislators for making key investments in affordable housing and behavioral health, and for funding 19 classes of the Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA).

2.

Ask them to support two items in the final version of the budget
HB 1406 – Affordable housing local option sales tax
This bill funds a new partnership between the state and local governments in support of affordable housing. This new local option sales tax will provide $70 million per biennium for a flexible funding source to address each city's unique affordable housing needs. The proposal is funded in the House budget.

SB 5993 – Model Toxics Control Account (MTCA) reform and stabilization assumed in the Senate capital budget
This bill would stabilize funding for MTCA programs and provide additional funding for stormwater, solid waste, and remedial site cleanup projects. The Senate budget includes $28.4 million for solid waste financial assistance grants.

3.

Tell them cities are opposed to the following two items
Further diversions from Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF)
The House budget continues a sweep of $160 million to education. Both House and Senate budgets continue the diversions of REET, solid waste utility revenues, and public utility tax revenues. Cities oppose the diversions of PWTF money into education and other programs. In addition, cities have been clear that we will not support funding for new programs at the expense of other infrastructure funding.

The added costs for cities of a proposed 3% COLA for PERS 1 retirees (HB 1390)
The new, unfunded cost of living adjustment (COLA) would result in even higher unfunded pension costs to cities. This proposal would cost local governments $13.3 million in the 2019-21 biennium and more than $80 million over the next ten years. This is on top of the $175 million local governments pay in annual PERS 1 unfunded liability costs. AWC has advocated for a targeted COLA approach to help retirees in the most need instead of a broadly applied benefit increase.

For more information, see AWC's budget highlight sheet for a comparison of key differences between the House and Senate budgets. Please share this information with your legislators and ask them to stand with cities.

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