Brush up on the key considerations of Proposition 1, the Families and Education Levy, then cast your vote by Tuesday. Oh, and don't forget the other important measures (like the carbon fee initiative) and elections (the state Supreme Court justice).  

What exactly is the education levy?

It's a property tax. The state relies heavily on property taxes, or a tax on residential properties based on assessed value, to fund public services.

Proposition 1 would charge 36.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value—in other words, the owner of a home valued at $500,000 would pay about $180 next year to support the levy. 

If approved, the measure would allow the levy to grow by more than the allowed 1 percent increase limit for the levy's first year. 

Subsequent increases for the remaining six years would be based on the previous year's rate, but couldn't go over 1 percent without another vote.  

What would the levy do?

Proposition 1 is greater in scope than any education-minded levy seen in Seattle, but it's far from unprecedented. The seven-year tax levy replaces two expiring levies: 2011's Families and Education and 2014's Preschool levies. It extends and enhances both, and aims to create lifelong support for underprivileged Seattle residents through four areas:

  1. Preschool and early learning programs that provide financial support for tuition, teaching staff, and early learning infrastructure.

  2. K-12 school and community-based investments that provide extra-curricular activities, skill building, tutoring and mentoring, college and job readiness guidance related to college and career.

  3. K-12 school health programs may include comprehensive health care and links to other public services.

  4. The Seattle Promise program may include high school and higher education coaching as well as two years of free community college tuition and non-tuition financial support for all Seattle public high school students.

The structure, curriculum, success metrics, and specific programming would be at the discretion of the council members and the mayor to decide each year, assisted by an oversight committee with the mayor, a council member, the Seattle School District superintendent, a School Board member, the Seattle Colleges chancellor, and 12 appointed members. 

Who supported this?

The Seattle Times and The Stranger support Proposition 1, saying it brings much-needed financial support to a demographic and a cause in dire need.

Critics wince at yet another hike in the cost of living in Seattle, and fear it might lead to tax fatigue that would negatively impact Seattle Public Schools when they ask for their own levy in February.

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