Thurston County elected officials met with local area state lawmakers this week, to discuss priorities for the 2016 legislative session. Over breakfast, the group discussed some of the challenges facing Thurston and the other counties in Washington State.
One of the biggest issues is fiscal sustainability. The main sources of revenue for counties are property tax and sales tax. The yearly increase in property tax is capped at 1% and sales taxes have been slow to recover from the great recession. That revenue flow does not keep up with inflation which has been running 3% to 5% each year.
Josh Weiss, of the Washington State Association of Counties was at the meeting. He told lawmakers that counties are having a difficult time growing back out of the recession and are now struggling to provide basic government services.
Other priorities for Thurston County in the upcoming legislative session include-
- Flexibility in spending current funds, which are often restricted
- Restoration of funding previously provided by the state, such as monies that used to pay for state-mandated county planning
- Support for improvements to the criminal justice system
- Adequate state funding for Health, Environmental Health and Social Services programs
- Programs to maintain and improve infrastructure such as roads and bridges
Members of the legislative delegation in attendance included State Senators Karen Fraser and Randi Becker. Also attending were Representatives Sam Hunt, Chris Reykdal, Ed Orcutt, Drew MacEwen and J. T. Wilcox.
To learn more about Thurston County's legislative priorities, please visit http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/bocc/docs/2016-Legislature-Priorities.pdfon the county web site.-30-