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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

November 4, 2014 at 6:57 PM

Property tax levy for city-subsidized preschool wins big

Mayor Ed Murray CQ talks during the Yes for Seattle Transit election party at the Comet Tavern in Capitol Hill. (Photo by Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Mayor Ed Murray talks at the Comet Tavern in Capitol Hill. (Photo by Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

A Seattle ballot measure enacting a $58 million property-tax levy for city-subsidized preschool won big in Tuesday returns.

Seattle Proposition No. 1B will authorize a $58 million property-tax levy to fund a four-year pilot program of city-subsidized preschool on a sliding scale while raising academic standards and the pay of preschool teachers.

The proposal, backed by city officials, was up against an alternate, unfunded measure backed by labor unions that would have established a $15 minimum wage for child-care workers, required training and certification through a public-private institute and made it city policy that families should not spend more than 10 percent of their income on child care.

The two measures wound up on the same ballot line after city officials and a pair of unions representing child-care workers couldn’t come to terms on a single plan. Voters were first asked to vote yes or no to whether they wanted a measure to pass, then were asked to choose between them regardless of how they voted.

In Tuesday returns, 65 percent voted yes to pass an early learning measure, and 67 percent chose Prop. 1B.

Brandy Sincyr, left, claps during speeches at the Yes for Seattle Transit election party at the Comet Tavern in Capitol Hill. (Photo by Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Brandy Sincyr, left, claps during speeches at the Yes for Seattle Transit election party at the Comet Tavern in Capitol Hill. (Photo by Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

The Proposition 1B levy will cost the owner of a Seattle home valued at $400,000 about $43 a year, according to the city. The money will go to select, high-quality preschools to provide slots to families based on income. It will ramp up over time, serving 280 children in 2015, and subsidizing up to 2,000 by 2018.

It will make preschool free for families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $70,000 a year for a family of four.

And it will subsidize preschool on a sliding scale for families earning up to 760 percent of the federal poverty level, or $185,000 for a family of four. Families making more will receive a 5 percent tuition subsidy.

Tonight’s vote count can be viewed here.

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Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: levy, pre-K, preschool

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