ABOUT MEASURE 1
Background + Purpose
Measure 1 proposes a tax increase of 0.2%, which would be applied as a sales and use tax within Spokane County, Washington. If approved, this tax increase would be effective from April 1, 2024, and would remain in effect until December 31, 2054, spanning a 30-year period. The tax revenue generated by this increase is estimated to total approximately $1.7 billion over the duration of the tax. The revenue would be distributed between Spokane County and its cities and towns, with the county receiving the majority (60% or an expected $1 billion) of the funds and the remaining 40% allocated to municipalities within the county, with a main focus on expanding the Jail.
The origins of Measure 1 can be traced back to the deliberations of Spokane County Commissioners in December. Commissioners Josh Kerns and Al French voted in favor of placing the measure on the ballot. It sought to introduce a 0.2% sales tax increase for 30 years to address various issues within the county's public safety, criminal justice, and behavioral health systems. A main allocation of these funds–according to Spokane County’s own page about the measure–is directed toward expanding the existing Spokane County Jail, constructing two new facilities, upgrading the booking and reform systems, and expanding jail-related services.
However, the timing of Measure 1's introduction has raised significant concerns among the opposition. It was proposed just before the swearing-in of elected County Commissioners, Amber Waldref and Chris Jordan, both of whom have since asked–ultimately unsuccessful–for a delay. Critics argue that the timing appeared to sideline the incoming commissioners and their concerns about transparency and accountability.
Revenue Allocation: If approved, Measure 1 is expected to generate approximately $1.7 billion over the 30-year period. The revenue would be allocated among various local government entities, with Spokane County receiving the lion's share (60%), and the remaining 40% allocated to cities and towns within the county.
A Spokane County judge's recent ruling has brought clarity and transparency to an upcoming ballot measure, known as Measure 1, which seeks to address critical issues within Spokane County, Washington. The judge's decision was in response to a lawsuit brought forth by a coalition of organizations, including Spokane Community Against Racism (SCAR), NAACP, and the Peace and Action Justice League (PJALS). The lawsuit argued that the original ballot language for Measure 1 was ambiguous and concealed the fact that a significant portion of the proposed $1.7 billion tax increase would be allocated to building new jail facilities.
Spokane County’s website specifically proposes using its share of the revenue for jail expansion–despite explicitly not mentioning the new jail in the original ballot language. This led to concerns about transparency and voter awareness. Critics argued that voters needed a clear understanding of the measure's content before making an informed decision. The judge's ruling mandated changes to the ballot language to ensure that voters are adequately informed.