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King County exec. pushing for another sales-tax hike

King County Executive Dow Constantine said "Access for All would build stronger communities. (King County)

King County executive Dow Constantine proposed a $469 million sales-tax hike to raise money for art, science, and culture programs.

Related: Soda tax proposed for City of Seattle

If approved, it would increase the county’s sales tax by 0.1 percent for every $10 spent and raise $67 million per year, over of seven years.

“King County is home to some of the nation’s preeminent arts, scientific and heritage organizations. Access for All provides all people of all incomes – young and old, rural and urban – with more opportunities to learn and be inspired,” Constantine said. “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.”

According to the county, benefits would “not be isolated to Seattle,” and what is being called “Access for All” would provide “proportionally more new funding for more than 300 smaller community organizations throughout the county.

Constantine says he wants the proposal on the August ballot.

The funding from the tax would be focused on four primary areas: education for kids, equity, and inclusion, opening doors for all, investing in local communities.

Here’s how the county explains the money from the additional sales tax would be used:

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.

If approved, the tax would add to a county that already approved a sales tax increase through the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure. The Seattle Times reports the ST3 sales-tax hike was a 0.5 percent increase.

Constantine, the Sound Transit Board of Directors chairperson, hepushed voters to approve the ballot measure in November that boosted sales in January.

Getting voters to approve another tax hike could be an uphill battle. In Seattle, which saw high voter approval of the Sound Transit taxes, residents are now dealing with higher car tab fees and property taxes. In addition to the current reality, the Seattle mayor has also proposed a property tax to generate millions more for the city to combat its homeless crisis. The mayor also proposed a soda tax, which could very well hurt the people it is intended to help.

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