King County Council members are adding a bit more heft to this fall’s voting pamphlet, approving a property tax measure that could rake in a possible $56 million annually for child's health and welfare services.
The proposal – set to go before voters in November – is called "Best Starts for Kids," an initiative spearheaded by King County Executive Dow Constantine. It’s gained national attention, generating months of discussion, research and speculation. Council members voted 8-to-1 in favor of it on Wednesday.
“This is a very exciting day for King County,” Councilmember Dave Upthegrove said. “I hope [Best Starts for Kids] leads us to some exciting changes.”
If voters approve, the tax would last six years, charging a 14-cent levy per $1,000 of assessed property value. For the average homeowner in King County, officials said, this translates to about a $1 per week hike in property taxes.
The revenue would go to local programs that help children with developmental disorders, including autism and mental health issues. It would also go to programs that support kids who have been exposed to violence, drugs or extreme poverty.
Today’s meeting was a continuation of a Metropolitan King County Council meeting on Monday, where a couple of amendments were tacked on to the proposal.
Constantine praised the council vote, saying, "Best Starts for Kids is how we will transform the way we invest in our next generation, to finally provide the upstream solutions that prevent negative outcomes such as mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, and incarceration."