Looking ahead to the next six years, King County aims to continue programs that focus on health and well-being for children and families throughout the region, along with new investments to improve access to child care for families with low incomes. 

King County Council voted unanimously on Tuesday, April 20 to send the Best Starts for Kids levy to voters. Countywide residents will ultimately decide whether or not to renew the levy for another six years on the Aug. 3 primary ballot.

“Over the past five years, Best Starts for Kids has been developed and driven by families, community members and community organizations into an overwhelming success,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, prime sponsor of the legislation. “This foundational and impactful work has meant more support for kids and young adults, security for families and stronger communities.”

The new proposal, which represents a 35% increase on the expiring 2015 property tax levy rate, would continue past funding priorities and add a focus on improving access to child care throughout the county. This proposal would set a first-year levy rate of $0.19 per $1,000 of assessed property value, an increase from $0.14 approved in 2015, with annual growth capped at 3%. Homeowners with a median-priced home of $600,000 would pay about $114 for 2022. It is projected to generate roughly $872 million during the six-year period, according to a press release.

Initially passed by voters in 2015, Best Starts for Kids is a prevention-oriented regional plan aimed at supporting the healthy development of children and youth, families and communities across King County. With levy funding, the plan invests in promotion, prevention and early intervention for children, youth, young adults, families, and communities. 

The renewal proposal, if approved by voters, would add funding for improved access to childcare throughout King County.

Councilmember Pete Von Reichbauer, who’s chairperson of the Regional Policy Committee, said the council worked “extensively” to include perspectives from around the county. 

“As we emerge out of the pandemic, it’s more critical than ever that we invest in the physical and mental health of our children,” said Council Chair Claudia Balducci in a press release. “I am pleased that Council has unanimously passed legislation giving voters the opportunity to consider a levy that continues and builds upon investments that serve children and families in communities across King County.”

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