Early rejection of heroin tax proves nobody wants to pay for solutions

Aug 3, 2016, 11:01 AM | Updated: 12:45 pm

The initial results of Washington’s primary election have gone pretty much as expected. Except for the willingness of Snohomish County taxpayers to fund solutions to counter its opioid crisis.

Proposition 1 asked for two cents on every $10 to fund hiring more police and cover a treatment program for drug use. According to The Seattle Times, the proposed 0.2 percentage-point increase would push Snohomish County’s total sales tax to between 7.9 percent and 10.1 percent, depending on the location inside the county.

Related: Snohomish County Council approves criminal sales tax

The county is home to one of Washington’s highest death rates from opioid overdoses, according to the Times. About one-third of the 420 deaths between 2011 and 2014 involved heroin.

KIRO Radio’s Josh Kerns said that the proposition was losing by more than 800 votes.

“You’d think people would say no big deal, a little bit of a sales tax, not even a property tax hike, to fund 35 more cops and cover treatment programs,” he said. “I think, of everything, that was a big surprise.”

Kerns noted that there wasn’t even an organized opposition to the proposition.

“Nobody wrote any opposition statement for the voter’s pamphlet, and yet there were inklings of that because, if you read all the Facebook comments and the comments in the Everett Herald, clearly there was an undercurrent of anti-tax and distrust for Sheriff Ty Trenary and how they were going to use the money,” Kerns said. “Still, it’s two cents on $10. I’m just shocked that it wasn’t immediately winning overwhelmingly.”

KIRO Radio’s John Curley, who is no fan of tax hikes, said he was also surprised by the results.

“Snohomish has a serious heroin problem and it is really taking a toll on that particular part of Washington,” Curley said. “So legislators said let’s take a small, teeny-tiny, almost insignificant increase in sales tax. It will help fund programs, we’ll be able to fund services, we’ll have some kind of counseling, we’ll deal with the addiction, we’ll have cops who will stop the theft. And even though it seemed like a really simple program of a couple dollars going to this program, it looks like the people will vote it down. It just goes to show you, that even though they know they have the problem, nobody wants to pay for the solution.”

John Curley and Shari Elliker on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to tom and curleyTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 3pm for John Curley and Shari Elliker.

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Early rejection of heroin tax proves nobody wants to pay for solutions