The money would help arts, science and culture organizations offer in-class learning experiences in every school district in the county, says King County Executive Dow Constantine. The money would allow more free admission and memberships for low-income families and seniors.
King County Executive Dow Constantine is proposing a sales-tax hike to raise money for arts, science and culture programs.
The 0.1 percent bump in the county sales tax would raise a projected $469 million over seven years — $67 million per year.
Constantine sent his proposal Thursday to the Metropolitan King County Council. He says he wants the council to put it on the August ballot.
The executive says the money would boost funding to arts, science and culture organizations for in-class learning experiences in every school district in the county. The money also would provide students with transportation and free tickets to help them take advantage of what the organizations do.
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And, Constantine says, the money would allow more organizations to offer free admission and free memberships to low-income families and seniors. More than 300 organizations would receive funding.
Constantine is calling the new arts-and-culture proposal Access for All.
“By throwing open the doors to all the region has to offer, we ignite more creativity, create more shared experiences, and build a stronger community,” he said in a news release.
This marks Constantine’s latest pitch for a voter-approved tax increase. Last year, as chairman of the Sound Transit board, he helped persuade voters to pass ST3, which increased property, sales and car-tab taxes for a massive transit expansion. Voters said yes in 2015 to Constantine’s Best Starts for Kids property-tax levy, a six-year, $392 million measure to boost funds for early-childhood assistance.
Council Chairman Joe McDermott, who represents West Seattle, Burien, Tukwila and Vashon Island, hailed Constantine’s proposal in the executive’s news release, saying the tax hike would allow more people to “experience grand productions, cross-cultural performances, local theatre and engaging scientific adventures.”
But Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, who represents Renton, Kent and Des Moines, voiced concern about a tax increase that would hit poor people hardest.
“Our state already has the most regressive tax system in the country, and this would make it even worse in King County,” Upthegrove said in a statement. “I look forward to an honest and hard look at exactly how and where the money would be spent.”
Constantine’s proposal would mean county consumers paying an additional 1 cent per $10 spent.
Last year’s Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, which voters in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties approved, included a sales-tax hike five times as large. Starting April 1, the sales-tax rate in Seattle will be 10.1 percent, according to the state Department of Revenue.
It was estimated that ST3’s 0.5 percent bump would cost a working-poor household $111 per year and an upper-income household $214.