Vote Yes On King County Proposition 1

It could have been better, but this measure is a slam-dunk as is.

Politics has rendered this proposition less than it could be. As first proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine, Proposition 1 would have tripled the rate of the the current veterans, seniors, and vulnerable populations (read: homeless) levy, which expires at the end of the year. That would have meant raising about $60 million a year in the first year; the expiring levy raises $18 million a year. Constantine’s proposal also evenly divided that funding among the three constituencies, reflecting the needs of each. However, the King County Council—specifically, the three Republicans on the Council, joined by two Democrats—amended the levy to lower the tax’s total revenue (though it would still double the levy from its current level) and devote half of it to veterans at the expense of services for the elderly (homeless services would still receive a third of the funding). This is despite the fact that projections show the veteran population in King County dropping in the coming years and the elderly population ballooning. These councilmembers reasoned that the changes would make the levy more palpable to a tax-weary county. Maybe so: Voters rejected a much smaller tax to fund arts and education programs in August. Whatever the shortcomings and their justifications, this levy should be approved. The expiring levy has helped, but the crisis is an all-hands situation where everything helps, not least of all $51 million a year—the amount that would be raised by the proposition now before voters. With the City of Seattle having scrapped its plans to bring its own homelessness levy this year, the need for voters to step up here is all the more important. In the latest homeless count, 30 percent of unsheltered folks lived outside Seattle city limits.

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