2 preschool voting choices
at 1:50pm by Bill Lucia
Seattle voters will decide between two preschool proposals this fall. The Seattle City Council voted on Monday to place the competing measures on this November's ballot. One of the measures would use a four-year, $58 million property tax levy to fund a voluntary preschool program developed by the council and Mayor Ed Murray. The other, Initiative 107, is union-backed and includes pay and training requirements for preschool teachers, but does not designate a funding source.Backers of I-107 wanted to see the two plans appear on the ballot as complementary measures, which would have potentially allowed voters to approve both. Council President Tim Burgess was among the council members who did not support that option. Burgess has championed the benefits of universal preschool and at Monday's meeting, he touted the work that the council has put into developing the levy-funded proposal. "The plan that we will vote on today is based on what works," he said. "We have followed the evidence." The plan aims to serve up to 2,000 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in 100 classrooms by 2018. Families making up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($71,550 for a family of four) would qualify for free tuition. Families making over 300 percent of the federal poverty level would pay tuition rates set on a sliding scale, with subsidies.Yes For Early Success, the campaign supporting I-107, has received $267,550 in contributions from SEIU Local 925 and $147,180 from American Federation of Teachers Washington, according to disclosure reports filed with the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission through June 18. SEIU represents education, childcare and public service workers. I-107 proponents filed an ethics complaint against the city yesterday related to the initiative. They asked the state Auditor, the Washington Public Disclosure Commission and the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, to investigate whether the city improperly used public funds to "attack" I-107 by, among other things, obtaining a legal memo on the initiative that the group says was biased. The complaint also says city officials fed biased information to The Seattle Times in order to malign the initiative. — B.L.