Sales-tax increase for art, science, cultural education & access proposed by County Executive Dow Constantine

Arts, science, and cultural education and access in King County would get a $67 million a year boost if a sales-tax increase proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine is passed by voters.

Today he sent the County Council a proposal for the August ballot, seeking to increase the county sales tax by a tenth of a cent per dollar spent. The measure dubbed “Access for All” would generate an estimated $469 million over the seven-year life of the proposal. From today’s announcement:

… The funding will focus on four primary areas:

Education for Kids: Students at all 19 King County school districts will see a dramatic increase in free access to curriculum-related art, science and heritages programs, both in-class and at cultural sites, with an emphasis on underserved students. Twenty percent of Access for All funding will ensure access for public school students, including transportation for students and in-class programming.

Equity and Inclusion: Recognizing that philanthropic funding for arts, heritage and science has historically been distributed inequitably, Access for All will intentionally provide higher levels of funding to community-based organizations that serve communities of opportunity. An Equity Advisory Committee will be established to evaluate progress toward achieving equity goals and outcomes.

Opening Doors for All: Families and seniors who earn a lower income will receive free or low-cost admission to nearly 40 major arts, science and heritage organizations, including Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, Pacific Science Center, Museum of Flight and others. Everyone in King County will have the opportunity to experience diverse performances and programs.

Investing in Local Communities: Cultural organizations such as heritage museums, organizations that serves communities that are underserved, botanical gardens, children theaters and music training programs, and local art and science groups throughout King County will be able to use the additional funding to meet their specific programming needs and provide enhanced cultural activities.

Funds will be collected by King County and awarded by 4Culture through public panels and contracts for service that call for each recipient to provide continual, measurable public benefits. Every organization that receives public funding through Access for All will provide ongoing documentation of program benchmarks, visitors serviced, and community impact. Their reports, site visits, audits, and program evaluations will be available to the public.

King County Council Chair Joe McDermott, who represents our area on the council, is listed as a co-sponsor of the legislation to create the ballot measure. You can read the legislation in its entirety on the county website, here. No date yet for a County Council vote on sending it to the ballot.

39 Replies to "Sales-tax increase for art, science, cultural education & access proposed by County Executive Dow Constantine"

  • GOP in WS March 9, 2017 (9:36 pm)

    Can’t wait to vote NO!

  • seaspades March 9, 2017 (9:50 pm)

    Enough of the taxes already.  For a “progressive” city we seem utterly fascinated with a regressive tax structure relying on sales taxes and property levies.

    • AMD March 9, 2017 (9:59 pm)

      This is a county tax and it’s the state’s lack of an income tax that creates our reliance on property and sales tax.

    • Paralethal March 10, 2017 (10:13 am)

      Oh don’t worry.  Seattle is also looking into if there’s a way they can implement an income tax for the city without running afoul of the state constitution.

      • 98126res March 10, 2017 (3:15 pm)

        West Seattle council member Herbold is now backing efforts to establish an income tax, including a legal challenge.  She has her reasons that I do not agree with.   She just hosted ‚ÄúTrump-Proof Seattle:  a Lunch and Learn Forum on Tax Justice.”  more info is on her blog.   Three more council led work parties are planned in March.

        Is this part of the Council’s job to promote income taxes?   What about Herbold leading an effort to investigate the $25 million Sewage Treatment Plant catastrophe?  Not sexy but deserves attention, like so many basic government duties that seem to be on the backburner.  What’s more, Utilities is a Herbold committee.

  • Mark March 9, 2017 (10:16 pm)

    No more sales taxes, but taxing sugar and carbonated beverages like sin taxes on alcohol and tobacco would be ok to me.  Studies are linking sugar and soda pop to numerous health issues, thus it’s time to tax it like other bad habits such as smoking.  The good thing about this type of tax, consumers can avoid them.

    • Alki Resident March 10, 2017 (6:43 am)

      My bad habit is pizza, now what?

    • TheKing March 10, 2017 (9:05 am)

      I think the reason they can’t go back to the “sin tax” category is because that well is pretty dry. The state, county and city have either mismanaged their revenues or are trying desperately to get homeowners to pay for everything because homeowners have no leverage, such as a Boeing company for instance. 

  • M March 9, 2017 (10:18 pm)

    I hate taxes but will finally vote yes for this one. At least I know the money will be spent wisely. 

    • Double Dub Resident March 10, 2017 (4:59 am)

      The money will be spent wisely? This is sarcasm right? 

    • North of Admiral March 10, 2017 (10:08 am)

      HA, good one M. I needed some levity this morning. 

      Yes we need more taxes. <—- sarcasm 

  • Chemist March 9, 2017 (10:25 pm)

    Transportation of public school students and special science programming ?  It sounds like it’s partly a school levy.

  • anonymous March 9, 2017 (10:31 pm)

    Can we fund these programs by cutting spending our safe injection sites or some of the millions we’re throwing at the homeless problem? I’m sure I’ll get blasted for suggesting this but I’d like to expand art education without adding another tax.

  • Celeste17 March 9, 2017 (10:38 pm)

    What’s hap0ening tomalo,the money that Marijuana is bringing in? Isn’t that suppose to bring in big bucks to the city/counties coffers?  Why are the residents of this city/countyou suppose to kick in more money?  I am on a fixed income and can’t afford more taxes.

  • David Kerlick March 10, 2017 (4:20 am)

    Regressive. We need to get the GOP out  state government so the bllionaires and one soon-to-be trillionaire and corporations pay the same tax rate as the rest of us. How about a “homestead exemption” on property taxes, and exemption of the first $100K of valuation, so those with more property pay proportionally  more?

  • candrewb March 10, 2017 (5:18 am)

    I am sure the residents of North Bend, Enumclaw, etc will be thrilled to death knowing they get to “step up” even more to pay for Seattle’s arts & humanities non-profs.

  • anonyme March 10, 2017 (5:53 am)

    I think it’s a worthwhile program.  However, I agree with others who point out that the sales tax is a terrible source.  If I’m not mistaken, we already have the highest sales tax in the nation.  This hits lower income folks the  hardest – in other words, the very demographic the plan is supposed to help.  Washington needs a fair income tax, with a simultaneous reduction in sales tax.

    David, very interesting idea for the property tax.  I like it.

    • AMD March 10, 2017 (6:15 am)

      Chicago has the highest sales tax in the nation at 10.25%.

      • West Seattle Hipster March 10, 2017 (7:09 am)

        We can probably pass them by after Murray is re-elected.

      • Chemist March 10, 2017 (7:44 am)

        West Seattle will only be 10.1% when April 1st rolls around, but Lynnwood has a transportation benefit district area that will be at 10.4% and then Mill Creek is also at 10.4%.   10.3% (still beating chicago) is what Edmonds, Bothell, Mountlake Terrace, and a few other cities pay.

        • CandrewB March 10, 2017 (9:27 am)

          Illinois also has a 4% income tax and average property taxes of $1000 per month. Oh, and unlike Washington state,  they can accumulate debt which they have of course in an amount which will not be paid back.

    • AJP March 10, 2017 (8:54 am)

      My thoughts exactly, anonyme.

  • Mike March 10, 2017 (6:59 am)

    *tap tap tap* “is this thing on?”  NOOOOOOOOOO

    I am an artist, I even have a BA in Fine Arts.  NOOOOOOO, I’m tapped out.  All done paying more in taxes.  Until these politicians can effectively use what we already give them, I don’t want to pay more.  I still see unfinished work.  Our roads are a wreck.  Our sewage system is a wreck.  Our water supplies are being consumed at a record rate with the influx of people moving here.  Fix what we need fixed, update our systems, do what we already paid for then we can talk.  Until then, NO!

    • Gatewoodian March 10, 2017 (9:45 am)

      Thank you! I wrote to Lisa Herbold about the atrocious condition of 35th Ave SW between Webster and Myrtle. She forwarded me to DOT who said that they could repair potholes but that the road wasn’t slated for repaving until, get this, 2023!!!! Go look at that stretch and see if you think it will hold out another six years. I realize this is a city issue and the story is about a county tax and I also realize the wet and cold winter does a lot to tear up roads. That said, for a major city our streets are in shameful condition. I don’t want to hear anymore pie in the sky nonsense ways to spend money until basic functions like this are taken care of. 

  • Space Dust March 10, 2017 (7:01 am)

    No more taxes!

    Stop handing out your hard earned money.

  • Mark Schletty March 10, 2017 (8:11 am)

    I know that having no progressive income tax forces government to use more regressive taxes to get funds. But one of the main jobs of elected officials is to prioritize spending, within the budget money available. If a project is more important than another wanted project, it should be funded first, even if it means the other project wont be funded. If not– no funding. To fund a program, not otherwise worthy enough to survive prioritization, through new regressive taxes it should be absolutely necessary even though all other absolutely necessary projects ate up all the available money. This project is not so necessary that it warrants another draining on low income people’s money. I support arts funding and access and already donate to providers. Dont tax the poor to pay for this.

  • Michael Waldo March 10, 2017 (8:48 am)

    Yep. I am a flaming liberal but I can’t handle any more taxes. Living pay check to pay check as it is. Researching other towns and counties in the area to move to a less taxed area.

  • elma March 10, 2017 (8:49 am)

    This taxing scheme is only going to make the poor even poorer!  In the March 7th edition of the Seattle Times Gene Balk wrote a column titled– “Taxes Smack Seattle Poor as Top Earners Get off Easy.”  Beside the article is a chart  comparing the  percentage of income that goes to  taxes for poor, middle, and upper incomer earners. According to this chart a family earning $25,000 a year pays 15.5% of their income towards all taxes.  For a family earning $75,000 a year the tax load is 5.9%.   Finally, for those who earn $150,000 pay 5.1% of that income towards taxes.  Until the taxing system is more equitable, adding more regressive taxes will only hurt those who can not afford it. 

  • KT March 10, 2017 (9:18 am)

    So that will raise Seattle sales tax to 10.2%.  And people wonder why on-line shopping where there is no sales tax is so popular?  Dow and Eddie don’t have any boundaries when it comes to taxing the population for the utopian progressive ideas.    

  • blbl March 10, 2017 (9:38 am)

    Tax developers.  Initiate an income tax.  Stop with the regressive taxes.

  • flimflam March 10, 2017 (10:51 am)

    seems like every day there is a new tax proposal that smacks of politicians out-progressiving each other or some other form of patting themselves on the back for how wonderfully considerate they are.

    I could have sworn that basic infrastructure was one of the most important things to a city – roads, water treatment facilities, a police force able to enforce simple laws, etc…maybe i’m getting old? 

  • Rand March 10, 2017 (10:56 am)

    Dow, you got no money and our roads are crumbling from lack of maintenance over the past several years. Govt done right is really boring work. Stop the day dreaming or find another job.

  • 2 Much Whine March 10, 2017 (6:35 pm)

    Stop with asking for an income tax already!  Income taxes affect only people that live and work in Washington.  ONLY US!  Income taxes can’t be avoided.  At least with a sales tax I can choose to buy or not to buy something.  I can save my money and not pay a thing.  At least a sales tax brings in money from people here on vacation, attending conventions, visiting friends, coming from Canada to shop at Costco, etc..  Remind me why it’s a good idea to let folks come here and enjoy our city, roads, transportation system without contributing?  Sorry, I paid income tax when I lived in Oregon and it sucked.  

    • WS Guy March 10, 2017 (7:21 pm)

      I was thinking we should have an income tax that only applies to people that earn more money than I do.  Would that be OK?

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