King County sales tax hike of .1% proposed for cultural education programs

Education Tax

King County leaders want to raise the sales tax 0.1% to offer more arts, science and cultural programs to students throughout the county.

The tax hike would bring in an estimated $67 million per year that would be spread out to organizations in every King County school district. The idea is for the voters to decide.

The Pacific Science Center is one of the educational organizations that helped craft the measure and would benefit from it. So on Friday, KIRO 7 morning anchor John Knicely asked how they will sell it to taxpayers.

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“I would say this is such an important initiative that it's worthy of everyone's consideration,” said April Collier, senior vice-president of development at the Pacific Science Center.

The center would use the money to expand the discount program that currently gives 2,200 families memberships at $19 instead of the normal $119. The program also offers free membership to more than 400 homeless youth and foster families.

“It will also enable us to sustain and grow our Science on Wheels program,” said Collier. “Enables those schools on free and reduced lunch programs (to) have a different kind of access to science.”

The tax money would be managed by King County's Cultural Development Authority, which has specific guidelines organizations must meet in order to get the funding. Some parents are excited about it.

“I think it's great to expose kids to all things, whether it's science or literature or it's art,” said Chung Webster, who has a daughter at John Hay Elementary School.

KIRO 7 asked if he had a problem with higher sales taxes. "Zero point one percent," Webster said.
"I'd be supportive of that."

But some people are wary, given that the state Legislature is debating raising taxes to fund all state public schools.

“Right now it seems a little premature,” said Brian Watson, of Queen Anne, "before we even know what's going to happen from the state.”

King County executive Dow Constantine sent his plan to the County Council hoping they'll put it on the August ballot for voters to decide.

“The children are our future,” said Niki Hermanson, who thinks the tax would pass. “And the money's got to come from somewhere.”