Extra Fizz: August Sales Tax Measure In Serious Trouble

By Erica C. Barnett May 21, 2010

Constantine announces the sales-tax proposal last month.

Republican King County County Council member Kathy Lambert—joining her fellow Republican Reagan Dunn, whose vote was also said to be in play—issued a statement this morning saying that she has no intention of voting to put the measure on the ballot in August.
We should not increase taxes on individuals and businesses until we have had the tough conversations about labor contract concessions, lowering other taxes to offset a criminal justice tax, looking for new business models to create efficiencies, and engaging our taxpayers in a discussion about what services they expect and how they want to pay for them.

Earlier this week, Dunn issued a similar statement, saying that "this is not a time to burden" taxpayers further:
Before I am willing to consider further revenue options, I must see some concrete action dealing with the real problem – year to year increases in King County’s cost of doing business.  We have heard for years, from previous Executive’s, that King County has a “structural budget gap” and all we need to fix the problem is more revenue. I have been saying that King County has a spending problem and must deal with its cost drivers, which are principally salaries and benefits.

The 0.2 percent sales tax measure—which would raise $47 million a year for county health and public safety programs and an additional $32 million a year for cities, including $12.1 million for Seattle—needs six votes to pass.

Constantine spokesman Frank Abe, who had just seen Lambert's statement when we spoke this morning, said he needed to look it over, but added that "I think the only vote that counts is on Monday."

"The situation is fluid but the legislation can still be amended so the members can see a way clear to adopt it Monday. It's going to be up to the council members to figure out how to protect the public."

I have calls out to Lambert and Dunn to ask for clarification on their positions. The council's other two Republicans, Pete von Reichbauer and Jane Hague, are believed to be against the sales-tax proposal.
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