This year two major education-related levies expire and will likely be put up for renewal: the Families and Education Levy, and the Seattle Preschool Levy. The preschool levy was passed in 2014 to fund a four-year “demonstration program” to offer preschool to 3 and 4 year old children in Seattle, hopefully proving its viability and discovering what it would take to scale it up.
This morning, the City Council started its process of looking at the two levies in anticipation of crafting renewals for the fall ballots. It may choose to combine them into a single levy, or opt to keep them separate if there is a risk that one would drag the other down — or if the complexities of trying to split the funds between City Hall-run programs and the politically separate Seattle Public School District become overwhelming. City Hall runs the Seattle Preschool Program through its Department of Education and Early Learning, independent of the school district (though in some cases utilizing classrooms at public schools).
Earlier this week, KUOW published an article raising questions about the quality of the Seattle Preschool Program, based on the second annual outside evaluation of the program. The article reports that the program is seeing “mixed results.” Let’s dive into the study report and see what it says.
This morning the Progressive Revenue Task Force held its second meeting, the first with substantive discussions of the issues. There were some important insights that help clarify the picture of the need — and the possible ways to address it.
(updated 1/19/18 10:00am — the city provided updated slides with corrections for bad data and incorrect math)
This afternoon the City Council announced the members of its Progressive Revenue Task Force, i.e. the group tasked with looking at a proposal for instituting a head tax or tapping into other progressive revenue sources.
This afternoon the City of Seattle filed notice that it would be appealing the recent judgment in the challenge to its ordinance imposing an income tax. It has chosen to bypass the Court of Appeals and take the case directly to the state Supreme Court.
Today the City Council announced that it has started taking applications for its newly-created task force to look at progressive revenue sources to fund new homelessness and affordable housing investments.
On Tuesday this week, the Council voted down an employee-hours tax (aka a “head tax”). In doing so, several Council members who voted “no” voiced their support in theory for a head tax and committed to working on a process with a broad group of stakeholders to evaluate a head tax — and other progressive revenue-raising options — and come back with a specific proposal. On Wednesday, Council member Gonzalez began circulating a draft resolution to that extent, which she hopes to have the Council approve on Monday.
This morning King County Superior Court Judge John Ruhl held a hearing in the case challenging the City of Seattle’s income tax on annual income over $250,000. And it was a protracted, two-and-a-half hour affair.
Monday afternoon Budget chair Lisa Herbold released her “revised balancing package” proposal for the 2018 city budget. Tuesday morning she begins to lead her fellow Council members in deliberations and votes on the items in the package.
The big contentious issue, the employee-hours tax (or “HOMES tax,” or “head tax”), is still in the package, and in fact will be the first item up for discussion and vote. It won’t be pretty.