Olympia income tax would pay for college tuition | KUOW News and Information

Olympia income tax would pay for college tuition

May 19, 2016

Olympia could become the first city in Washington to charge an income tax.

Voters there might see two income tax measures on their ballot this fall. A group of Olympia citizens is pushing for the tax, which prompted the city council to write its own proposal.

Local Wonder: The strange, short story of Washington state's income tax

The money would help the city's high school graduates move on to higher education. Specifically, the money collected would pay for one year of community college or technical college or give them a small stipend for in-state universities.

The group Opportunity for Olympia is collecting signatures for a ballot measure. Campaign manager Danielle Westbrook says Olympia is a good place for the tax.

“Right now one in six Olympia voters has signed the petition," Westbrook says. "This would be a great thing for our kids."

The initiative would impose a 1.5 percent tax on any household income over $200,000. Some city leaders support the idea but think the tax should apply to all households.

The council has voted to write up an income tax resolution in time for the November ballot. Council member Nathaniel Jones proposed the idea.

He says if Olympians value education, “then we as Olympians, all Olympians, need to participate in the financing."

Three council members who remain against the tax question whether it's the city's role to pay for higher education. They also say the measure would invite court challenges.

Both the city and Opportunity for Olympia proposals could be on the fall ballot if both parties move forward.