Voters are backing a King County measure that promises to help young kids but gives few details.

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With his Best Starts for Kids levy proposal, King County Executive Dow Constantine promised to turn “science into action,” but left the details about exactly how $392 million would be spent for later. Tuesday night, it appeared that might be good enough for voters.

The levy proposal, known on the ballot as the county’s Proposition 1, was leading 53 to 47 percent in initial returns.

“We’re very encouraged,” Constantine said.

In the run-up to the election, the executive and his staff said the levy would foster children’s brain development by supporting wide-ranging early-intervention programs that would improve their health and address psychological, behavioral and other problems. It identified only a few of those programs, however, including one targeted at preventing homelessness and another that sends nurses into the homes of first-time moms.

According to the levy proposal, an advisory board would make recommendations as to the remaining programs — which would serve pregnant moms, kids and young adults up to age 24.

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Critics argued that the proposal was too vague and duplicated efforts at the city, state and federal levels.

But there was no organized opposition. And Constantine claimed that the lack of specificity would actually improve accountability. Since the county wouldn’t be nailed down to particular programs, it could stop funding those that aren’t working, he said.

He also said the levy would open up possibilities now closed to the county because of limited funds. Seventy-five percent of the county budget goes toward the criminal- justice system — a situation he called “tremendously frustrating.”

If ultimately passed, the Best Starts levy will cost home­owners an annual 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $63 for a $450,000 house.

One of the county’s first steps would be to put together its advisory committee, which would help draw up an implementation plan, according to Constantine. The number of people on the advisory committee is “yet to be determined,” but will be about 20 members, according to county spokesman Frank Abe.


Best Starts for Kids levy
Yes 53%
No 47%
Results as of 8:15 p.m. Tuesday