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King County To Vote On Raising Sales Tax To Fund Arts

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Seattle Aquarium Photo
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The Seattle Aquarium is on of the organizations that would benefit from the arts and culture levy.

Voters in King County will get to decide if they want to raise the sales tax to fund arts and cultural programs. The Metropolitan King County Council voted 7-2 to put the measure on the August 1 primary ballot.The ballot measure would raise the sales tax 0.1 percent. Estimates are it would generate $67 million a year. Of the more than 300 non-profit organizations that would receive the tax revenue, there are large institutions, like the Seattle Symphony and the Woodland Park Zoo, but also smaller cultural and heritage groups in rural parts of the county.

The idea is to make arts,  culture and science programs more accessible to families and kids who normally can’t afford to go to a play or visit a museum.  

Councilmember Rod Demboski, who voted to put the sales tax levy on the ballot, says it's personal for him.

“I was one of those poor kids in south King County and was never ever taken by my dad to a symphony or a theater and the only reason that I got to experience the Pacific Science Center and the Seattle Rep and the Renton Historical Museum was because of public funding,” Demboski said.

The arts levy proposal was reworked after an earlier proposal met opposition from council members who said more money needed to be slated for rural areas and small and ethnically diverse arts organizations.

Councilmembers Larry Gossett and Dave Upthegrove voted against putting the sales tax levy on the ballot. Gossett was concerned that a lot of money was still going to large organizations such as the Seattle Symphony and not enough to African-American groups.  

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.