2017 Legislative Session – Safe Livable Washington

Increase Revenue for Public Safety & Criminal Justice Services

Counties are facing a financial crisis that is putting millions of Washingtonians’ safety at risk.

The current method of financing county services is fundamentally broken. The few available revenue options are either inadequate, restricted, or unreliable. Counties need stable revenue streams to provide essential services such as public safety and criminal justice, to keep Washingtonians safe.

Public safety and criminal justice services are suffering the most; these services make up about 73% of counties’ total General Fund expenditures.

118 Fewer Officers

Counties have 5% fewer
commissioned officers than
five years ago

“The criminal justice system consumes 70 percent of county revenues, and the bad guys don’t take a tax holiday. Besides the reduction in deputies, the Prosecutor’s Office has 10 fewer attorneys handling more cases, many resolved by plea bargains that put criminals back on the streets faster.”

– The Spokesman-Review Editorial Board


Washington State’s
national rank
for state provided
public defense


Washington State’s
contribution of the
total amount spent for
public defense


Increase in counties’
costs for providing public
defense services from
2006-2015 (56%)

For example, counties across the state have experienced:

  • Reductions in the number of deputies on the road
  • Cuts to law enforcement training
  • Delayed public safety response times
  • Delayed criminal justice proceedings
  • Caps on inmates booked into county jails
  • Overcrowding in jails
  • Elimination of security enhancements for jails & courthouses
  • Increased diversion from road funds for law enforcement
  • Dangerous road and bridge conditions

The result is Washington State is less safe than it was a decade ago. Counties simply don’t have the resources needed to fund the essential public safety and criminal justice services their communities rely on.

Josh Weiss started working in Olympia in 1998 and in addition to spending the last 8 years at WSAC, has served as nonpartisan counsel to the House of Representatives, Legislative Director for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Environmental Policy Director for the Washington Forest Protection Association representing private forest landowners. Josh is a graduate of Central Washington University and the Vermont Law School, and is a fourth generation Washingtonian.

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