Friday, July 17, 2009

They said no "new" taxes

A little hair has been split over funding for King County arts, heritage programs, and Seattle Center by all five of the candidates for King County Executive. No new taxes!

The five major candidates for King County executive agree on one thing.

No new taxes.

Not to mitigate looming huge cuts to health and human services, and to public safety, and not for a new arena to lure an NBA team to replace the Seattle Sonics.

The candidates - County Councilman Dow Constantine, state Rep. Ross Hunter, former broadcaster Susan Hutchison, state Sen. Fred Jarrett and County Councilman Larry Phillips - all gathered Thursday in Bellevue for a City Club forum.

Read Exec candidates: No taxes for NBA arena or anything else right here.

No "new" taxes for King County and Seattle Center is a big NO!
But existing taxes, tourist taxes, for youth athletic fields, heritage centers, arts, some to health and human services and affordable housing near transit centers?
Oh ya, that has lips sweeter than wine.

Dow Constantine and Ross Hunter both testified supporting Senate Bill 6116 to the State Senate Ways & Means Committee in March. That was the use of "existing" non-general fund "tourist taxes" collected within King County for county stuff and within Seattle for Seattle Center.

Maybe all of those County Executives should be asked if they support existing tourist taxes for the stuff listed in SB6116? If a Special Session is called by the legislature in October would they support bringing a revised SB6116 to a vote?

I know arts has a one year bandaid from the Feds, but the Heritage institutions get shorted on stimulus funds, and a long term solution was not provided by Frank Chopp.
That is the only likely source of funding for King County that does not dig into their general fund.

March 19, 2009
Constantine promotes jobs, tourism in Olympia

Testified Wednesday to Senate Ways and Means Committee

Metropolitan King County Council Chair Dow Constantine addressed legislators yesterday in Olympia in support of a bill that would allow King County to redirect existing visitor taxes to tourist promotion, arts and heritage centers, and other community development programs.

“Supporting arts, cultural and heritage programs in our communities is extremely important,” said Constantine. “People travel from other states and other countries for the symphony and the opera, for art exhibits and rock & roll shows. Visitors' hotel, restaurant, and retail dollars are critical to our state and local economy.”

Additionally, SB 6116 could fund low-income housing, regional centers and publicly owned stadiums or arenas. The bill would direct revenue currently being used to pay off the bonds for construction of Qwest and Safeco Fields to these new programs once the stadium debts are retired.

Studies show the strong relationship between tourism, arts and the economy. One study indicates travel and tourism is the third leading retail sector in the country, creating more than 8 million jobs. Visitors to historic sites and cultural attractions stay longer and spend more money than passive tourists.

“People are hurting, and King County and the state face continuing budget shortfalls, so now is the time to invest in programs that preserve jobs, generate revenue and support economic development,” added Constantine.

SB 6116 is sponsored by Senator Ed Murray (D-43) and Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36).
Link to: Constantine promotes jobs, tourism in Olympia

The rest of the county wanted to target those tourist taxes to arts, heritage, and a short term support to health and human services.
The cougs killed the addition of Husky stadium, that revenue IMO should go toward high density housing and infrastructure near the new light rail stations.

Senate Bill 6116

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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