Tim Burgess says his big priorities this year are funding for a city pre-K program and transit, and he worries about voter "tax fatigue."
This week in the news section, I wrote about the city council's progress on a new public financing measure for council elections. It's an idea the council put to voters last year but that failed at the ballot—though just barely, after a weak and underfunded campaign. Now, its potential revival this year (backed by Council Member Mike O'Brien), is being actively blocked by Council President Tim Burgess.
There has been news coverage recently about how as City Council President I won’t introduce legislation that would send a measure to establish public financing of political campaigns back again to the voters in November.* The Stranger has a story about this in this week’s edition.
Public financing of campaigns is a good idea. Seattle established a system for partial public financing of campaigns in 1978. I helped oversee the later years of that program as a commissioner on the City’s Ethics and Elections Commission. In 1992 a statewide initiative put an end to this practice, but in 2008 the State Legislature allowed local jurisdictions to establish programs through a public vote.
Last year I voted to let Seattle decide if they wanted public campaign financing. The proposed system would have incentivized candidates to reach out to a wider segment of the population by providing matching public funds to small campaign donations; a property tax provided the funds. The voters said “no” by a narrow margin.