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Ballot measures

Ballot measures

August 2017 primary election

King County
Proposition No. 1
Sales Tax for Cultural Access Program

The King County Council passed Ordinance No. 18513 to establish and fund a cultural access program. The program would expand access to arts, science, and heritage programming throughout King County. The program would include cultural education in schools and transportation to cultural venues for public school students. The program would also provide funding for cultural organizations to expand programming, including to serve diverse and underserved populations. The cultural access program, including administrative costs, would be funded by a county sales tax increase of one-tenth of one percent for seven years beginning January 1, 2018. Should this proposition be:



If approved by voters, Proposition 1 would authorize an increase in the county sales tax of one-tenth of one percent for seven years beginning January 1, 2018, to fund a cultural access program as authorized under chapter 36.160 RCW.

The program would provide funding to cultural organizations for community-based, regional, and public school access programs to enhance and expand arts, science, and heritage programming. Organizations would be required to provide a variety of public benefits, such as free and low-cost admissions and programming. Larger cultural organizations would also be required to spend 30% of their funding from this program to support access by diverse and underserved populations, and to reach out to communities outside the cities where cultural organizations are primarily located. These larger regional cultural organizations would also be required to spend 20% of their funding from this program on activities to bring art, science, and cultural education to public schools. The public school access program would also fund student transportation to programs at facilities and venues.

The sales tax revenue would also be used for start-up funding and for administrative expenses of the county and the cultural development authority that will manage the program.

The program will have an advisory board. Guidelines, eligibility, and reporting requirements for funded organizations will be developed and maintained. The program administrator will report to the County Council each year on the program, its finances, the number of people served, and the performance of the funded organizations.

Over the last decade public funding for science and art education programs has been cut in half, despite the fact that hands-on arts, science and heritage education can dramatically improve a child’s success. Proposition 1 will help.

Proposition 1 provides dedicated funding for in-class arts, science and heritage education for every kid in every school district, with a priority on low-income schools. Prop. 1 also provides every district free transportation and expanded access to our region’s world-class institutions like the Museum of Flight, Pacific Science Center, Seattle Symphony and others.

Many families can’t afford tickets to a live performance or a museum. But Proposition 1 will allow regional arts, science and heritage institutions to provide free or reduced tickets for people on a fixed budget, including seniors, people with disabilities, low-income and middle-class families.

Prop. 1 will also provide stable funding for hundreds of smaller community organizations throughout the county, and require large organizations to fund programs region-wide. Furthermore, organizations in historically underserved communities will receive proportionally more funding.

At just $30 for the average household per year, Proposition 1 will improve equity and expand access to important arts, science and heritage experiences for kids and families. Please vote yes!

Submitted by: Bill Nye, Estela Ortega, Tom Skerritt,

We both have a long history of supporting arts and culture, but it is unwise and inequitable to impose another $500 million regressive sales tax increase on overburdened King County taxpayers.

Conservatives and liberals alike should unite for tax fairness and better prioritization.

This regressive tax increase impacts low-income and working class folks the most. People feel the burden of the Sound Transit tax increase which pushed our sales tax over 10%.

This destroys capacity to fund higher priorities like housing, roads, homelessness, and education. With homeless kids living under bridges, why prioritize spending $500 million on arts?

Despite the rhetoric, the bulk of your money will subsidize a handful of large, well-funded organizations with wealthy patrons. The funds for schools, low-income and diverse communities is shameful compared to what politically powerful organizations receive.  

An unelected board would control over half-a-billion dollars of taxes which lacks accountability.   

King County’s arts community is already well funded. There is the 1% for the arts policy, and starting in 2021 lodging taxes dedicated to arts and culture will provide $13 million annually.

As a Seattle Democrat & East King County Republican we ask you to Vote No.  Wrong Tax, Wrong Time, Wrong Priority.

Submitted by: Larry Gossett, Dino Rossi

“The next generation of engineers, programmers and artists deserve equal access to hands-on learning missing in traditional classrooms. Dedicating resources to high-poverty schools, so every kid has access to programs that close achievement gaps and open doors to opportunity, is both equitable and urgent. Prop 1 is a small investment that benefits underserved communities and hundreds of small, diverse organizations countywide. Vote Yes!” -Former King County Executive and HUD Deputy Director Ron Sims

Submitted by: Bill Nye, Estela Ortega, Tom Skerritt,

We agree that vibrant arts and cultural organizations are important for strong communities, and we proudly support the robust organizations that already exist in King County.

However, new tax dollars should be spent on higher priorities like housing, congestion relief and human services, especially when those tax dollars come from a regressive source like the sales tax.

This is simply the Wrong Tax, at the Wrong Time, for the Wrong Priority. Please Vote No.

Submitted by: Larry Gossett, Dino Rossi

Simple majority (RCW 82.14.525)

For questions about this measure, contact: Leah Krekel-Zoppi, Sr. Legislative Analyst, 206-477-0892,

TTY: Relay 711

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