“By redirecting money for unknown new City of Seattle programs, the City Council’s plan eliminates funding for programs they previously approved that provide nutrition assistance, child care for struggling families, and nursing care for low-income pregnant women,” the mayor’s statement on the vote reads. “Despite voting for this funding last year, City Council’s plan now cuts funding committed to these programs without identifying the millions in other funds or cuts needed to continue these critical safety net services.”
The tiff comes over the city’s sweeter than expected revenue flow from its tax on sugary beverages that was originally earmarked for creating new programs related to “healthy food and beverage access, birth-to-three services and kindergarten readiness, a public awareness campaign about sugary drinks, support for people actively living with obesity and diabetes, community-based programs to support good nutrition and physical activity and evaluation support for those programs.”
But in the latest rounds of negotiating over the city’s now $5.9 billion budget, the council agreed to direct the funding to supporting a slate of existing programs including the Fresh Bucks food voucher program, food banks, child care assistance, and the Nurse Family Partnership. Monday’s vote was a move to get the sugar tax money channeled back to its original target. The battle over the $6 million or so in funding, then, is typical of the Durkan administration — focusing spending on a smaller set of existing resources vs. creating new, often progressive programs.
Durkan says she will stop the legislation despite the council’s “veto-proof” 7-1 vote Monday. Durkan can still veto the bill but must now specify objections in writing after the lopsided approval. The council would then have 30 days to reconsider the legislation and vote again.
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