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Unions Appeal Judge's Ruling, Seek Separate Votes On Seattle Pre-K, Childcare Plans

Kyle Stokes
Supporters of Initiative 107 hold a press conference in Seattle's Central District on July 31, 2014. They sued the city in hopes of giving voters the chance to approve both their ballot proposal and the city's preschool pilot plan.

A union-backed advocacy group for Seattle childcare workers has appealed a lower court ruling that pits a voter initiative the group favors, Initiative 107, against a city-endorsed pre-kindergarten proposal on the November ballot.

The advocacy group, Yes for Early Success, asked the state Court of Appeals to review a King County judge's decision that states Seattle voters cannot cast votes in favor of both I-107 and the city's proposed preschool plan.

If voters approve I-107, the city would raise the minimum wage for childcare workers to $15 an hour, create a central training institute for early educators and set goals designed to bring down the cost of child care.

The city-endorsed preschool plan involves a $58 million property tax hike that would cover preschool tuition for up to 2,000 low-income students by the end of a four-year pilot run. More well-off families could pay on a sliding scale to participate.

City officials feel the two programs are incompatible and contradictory. I-107 supporters say city leaders are creating a "false choice," arguing both plans should have the opportunity to pass.

Currently, voters can cast a vote supporting neither ballot measure or one of the two, but not both.

The final deadline for printing King County's general election ballot is Sept. 5.

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.