King County is in a crisis. After cutting $140 million from its general fund over the past two years, the county faces another $60 million shortfall in 2011. County Executive Dow Constantine says that, unless we find a way to bridge that gap, we need to eliminate 71 positions from the sheriff's department, 22 deputy prosecutors, and 42 people from the superior court, and slash human services (like helping victims of sexual assault). That would suck, particularly if you were a victim in need of speedy prosecution of your case, an accused person who needs a public defender, or anyone who expects sheriff's deputies to respond to a 911 call before your next birthday. To save those services, Prop 1 would raise the county sales tax by 0.2 percent. This not only lessens the blow described above, it generates millions for cities (Seattle would get $13 million to help with its own budget problems). Critics of Prop 1 say the budget woes are the county's fault for failing to prioritize public safety. But after two years of slashing, "there's simply nothing left to cut," says Maurice Classen, a King County deputy prosecutor and Prop 1 supporter. Prop 1 would pencil out to less than $3 a month for the average household, supporters calculate. As Bruce Hilyer, presiding judge for King County Superior Court, says, "The bottom line is, do you need those services so much that you are going to fund them with the only tax source you have?" Vote yes.

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