The campaigns for Seattle’s competing ballot measures on early education — Proposition 1A, which asks for a $15-an-hour minimum wage for the city’s child care workers, and Proposition 1B, a citywide pre-K pilot program funded through property taxes — agree on very little. The few things they do agree on, therefore, are notable.
The opposing campaigns agree that the ballot format for these measures is confusing. The ballot asks voters two questions: “Should either of these measures be enacted into law?” and “Regardless of whether you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be?” When two measures about the same subject appear on the same ballot, state law requires them to be presented as competing measures. Voters cannot vote for both; if they do their vote won’t be counted.
Why are there two measures on the same subject? The campaigns also agree on this question — up to a point. Last year, city politicians and two unions that represent preschool and child care workers tried to create one ballot measure about early education. They could not reach an agreement. The politicians and unions disagree over who is to blame.
So the unions, Service Employees International Union Local 925 and American Federation of Teachers Washington, collected signatures for an initiative. The initiative went to election officials and became Prop. 1A. Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray proposed another ballot measure to the Seattle City Council. The council put that measure on the ballot, where it became Prop. 1B.
While Props. 1A and 1B deal with the same subject, they take starkly different approaches to issues surrounding early learning. Prop. 1A has all the hallmarks of a union campaign: Higher wages for preschool and child care workers,a union-run training center and cost controls for consumers. Prop. 1B is the politicians’ brainchild: A small pilot program that has big ambitions with carefully contained costs and new taxes to pay for them.
In this edition, Real Change profiles each measure in detail to help voters navigate this electoral maze.