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October 22, 2014 at 6:25 AM

Seattle preschool Proposition 1B’s consensus, and the alternative’s problems

The Seattle Preschool Program —  known as Proposition 1B on the Nov. 4 ballot —  is racking up endorsements. The King County Labor Council, El Centro De La Raza, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and many other groups are on board.  You also have a rare consensus of Seattle’s media organizations, including the centrist Seattle Times editorial board, the left-leaning Publicola,  The Stranger, and even tipped-over-off-the-left-o-sphere blogger David Goldstein.

All say voters should pass Seattle Proposition 1B.

State Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

State Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

The unanimity forms around the simple idea that it’s time to get moving on universal, high-quality prekindergarten education. A pair of the nation’s leading pre-K researchers laid out the research behind 1B in a recent Seattle Times guest column. If you missed it, read it.

Understanding the unanimity is important because there’s a competing measure, Proposition 1A, on the ballot. Only one can pass. It’s either-or. Prop. 1A does not create a citywide preschool program. It does not have any way to fund its child-care teacher training enhancements.

And it’s a budget-buster for the city. Prop 1A binds the city to create a policy that caps all families’ child-care payments — regardless of income level — at 10 percent of gross income. The city estimates that will cost more than $100 million the first year.

Prop 1A is just bad policy. Don’t take my word for it. Read Democratic state Rep. Ross Hunter’s analysis, sent to the Seattle City Council in September (at the time Prop. 1B  was called Initiative 107). Hunter, the state House budget chairman, is not a Seattle voter, but he knows pre-K issues cold. He’s a longtime champion for pre-K, helping create a rating system for child care programs that will be incorporated into Prop. 1B.

Hunter calls the costs of the 10 percent goal “staggering” and “a serious misrouting of resources.” Here’s an excerpt from his report:

There is no constraint on the costs of the program a child attends. With the language here, people could send their kids to exclusive programs and ask for taxpayer support for a $30,000 program for a family making $250,000. This will have the perverse effect of driving UP child care costs.

Seattle has a big choice, and a huge opportunity with Prop. 1B. Take a moment to read the endorsements; these represent the political spectrum, analyzing the options and independently coming to the same conclusion.

Comments | Topics: city council, endorsements, november election

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