Photo by Brian LeBlanc

21st Century Viking: Vote No On The School Levies

By Brian LeBlanc

Just over three months after the 2012 General Election, Seattle voters are being asked to consider two levies to fund education. I am urging you to vote No on both of these levies. I don’t think it is fair to try and pass two huge tax measures at a time of year when people are not paying close attention to politics.

The two proposed levies on the Feb. 12 ballot are intended to fund operating costs and capital projects for Seattle Public Schools. Even though the levy proponents emphasize that these are renewals of existing levies, they are, in fact, net property tax increases. According to a story by KUOW (http://kuow.org/post/seattle-voters-consider-125-billion-schools-levies), these two levies would raise $1.25 billion and “would cost the average taxpayer another $152 a year for a home assessed at $400,000.”

According to the King County elections site, 84 percent of Seattle voters participated in the Nov. 2012 General Election. The question begs to be asked: why weren’t these two measures placed on that ballot? There were already two propositions on that ballot, a $290 million bond measure to fund the construction of a new Seattle seawall and a levy to fund a fingerprint identification system, both of which passed easily. Surely, given the fact that Seattle voters have perennially approved these school levies, is there any reason to assume they would not have voted for them at that time? Was the Seattle School District concerned that their measures -- especially Proposition 2 -- would not hold up to the prolonged public scrutiny of a general election campaign?

In August 2012, Seattle Public Libraries put a $122.6 million property tax levy to increase their funding on the Primary Election ballot. The measure passed 65 percent to 32 percent during an election in which only 44 percent of Seattle residents participated.

According to a press release on the King County elections site, they anticipate a “37 percent turnout rate in the Feb. 12 Special Election.” (http://www.kingcounty.gov/elections/news/2013/January/22ballotsinmail.aspx)

The issue of education funding is an important one, which is why it should be carefully considered and voted upon in elections when most of the voters are expected to participate. I find the idea of putting tax measures totaling $1.25 billion up for a vote when slightly more than a third of eligible voters are expected to participate to be disingenuous. It’s like trying to sneak a hippo around a lamppost -- did they expect us not to notice?

If you want significant tax measures like these to be voted upon only during General Elections, I urge you vote No on Propositions 1 and 2.

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