Virtual Meeting Highlights:
County Executive Dow Constantine presented his proposed 20-21 budget to the Council. Claudia Balducci gave a requiem for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The County Executive delivered his biannual budget. The budget consisted of 700 pages for 2021-2022 of $12.4 million with a history of COVID 19 and loss of income.
Monies from sale of marijuana would transition from the Sheriff’s Office to homelessness plus .1% sales tax to go to chronic homeless for 2000 people in two years. Constantine stated that “nothing is more regressive than homelessness.”
The budget had an Emergency Health Plan for 21,000 COVID cases with over 750 dead. It also provided for rental assistance, arts help, and small business grants.
Constantine stated that since George Floyd’s death, the inequality to Black and brown people has shown itself to be apparent . We must help youth who need in-person help. The pandemic highlighted inequities to these populations. He said racism was a public health crisis and we have an opportunity to make it better. His plan was to divest, invest, and reimagine.
Constantine pointed out that the War on Drugs had harmed Black communities and argued that the jail population had to be reduced. One floor of the King County jail could be closed as a result. We have to have a new model for youth which is restorative and community minded, like Community Pathways. Wanted to thank the Anti-racist Corps Team in his office. We must reimagine all County practices for the effects on people of color.
He stated we must have affordable housing using unused buildings with onsite services.
Constantine advocated for a more equitable tax code, which only the State Legislature can fix, but we cannot wait for that legislation to happen. Fourteen hundred people with COVID have hotel rooms to stay safe at the County’s expense and Public Health has 25 free testing sites. Mr. Constantine thanked the mayor of Issaquah for giving hotel rooms.
He repeatedly criticized Congress for not getting Care funds to help with COVID. Wants to take $4.2 million from the County Rainy Day fund to do that.
Constantine proposed $20 million for green jobs, $10 million for a community center in Skyway, and noted we also need money for bridge maintenance. Metro Transit has had to change to meet COVID specification of cleaning and spacing. It will have make $20 million less in two years and ridership has dropped 63%. It will need battery buses and connection to the North Gate Lite Rail in future.
Constantine cited the Strategic Climate Action Plan to make cleaner transit and to cut one half the green house gases by 2030 and preserve 100 acres of land in cities. The fires and smoke have strengthened our resolve to protect this wonderful place.
In sum, Mr. Constantine cited 4 goals in his budget:
He concluded by saying that the year 2020 will be pivotal for us all. We must step up, act, and do the right thing.
Claudia Balduccci ended the meeting and wanted to express admiration for the King County TV crew. They have won 8 wards and got us though the pandemic crisis on line.