Legislature provides limited aid for King County’s budget challenges

Mar 28, 2024
Written by WR Communications

Last autumn, King County Executive Dow Constantine cautioned that without assistance from the Legislature, the County would be compelled to shutter nearly all its public health facilities. Constantine, alongside other King County officials, underscored that the 1% cap on property tax collections’ increase, lacking voter consent, has failed to match inflationary pressures. The bulk of King County’s general fund expenses rely on property and local sales taxes.

The County Executive implored the Legislature to raise the 1% cap on property tax collections without voter consent. Despite declining to lift the property tax collection cap to 3%, the Legislature did adopt two modest changes tailored to King County.

State legislation permits counties to establish new levies, pending voter approval, to alleviate budget shortfalls. However, counties with over 1.5 million residents were barred from enacting such levies. The Legislature removed this restriction for King County, allowing the County to pursue voter endorsement for levies to address its budget deficit.

Additionally, King County received authorization to increase property taxes without voter consent to support the operation, expansion, and modernization of Harborview Medical Center. Although the legislation technically extends to any county-owned hospital, Harborview stands as the state’s sole county-owned hospital.


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