King County raises sales tax in plan to create more homeless housing

The King County Council voted Tuesday to add a 0.1% sales tax expected to raise around $70 million a year to fund housing for people experiencing long-term homelessness.

When proposed by Executive Dow Constantine in September, the plan was hoped to raise more than five times as much funding in a regional approach to addressing the region’s ongoing homelessness crisis. Instead, cities like Issaquah and Bellevue moving quickly to opt out of the plan and implement their own taxes, Continue reading

After mayoral veto, Seattle Council passes smaller COVID-19 economic relief bill

The Seattle City Council voted Wednesday to override Mayor Jenny Durkan’s veto of its COVID-19 relief bill while agreeing to scale the plan back by millions as the economic crisis around the pandemic worsens.

Wednesday’s 6-2 vote overcame Durkan’s objections to the plan that will draw down on the city’s reserve funds in what the council hopes is a near-term fix until the city’s new tax on the payrolls of its largest companies can replenish the funds in 2021. The council’s most fiscally conservative member Alex Pedersen and Andrew Lewis were the votes against the override over concerns about a worsening economic forecast for the city and Lewis’s hopes to forge a compromise with the mayor. Continue reading

Council will put together new Seattle COVID-19 relief bill after mayor’s veto over emergency reserve spending

Calling the spending plan irresponsible and saying it will drain the city’s emergency funds too quickly, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has vetoed the City Council’s big business tax spending plan including millions in immediate COVID-19 economic relief.

The council’s unanimous support for the plan including rental and food assistance, and boosts for small businesses likely means it can overcome the veto and tap the some $86 million in funds it had lined up from Seattle’s emergency reserves.

Mayor Durkan says the city might need that cash next year and beyond. Continue reading

Seattle approves plan for big business tax spending plan including COVID-19 economic relief

The City Council passed legislation Monday that will shape how Seattle spends the money generated by its new “progressive revenue” tax on big businesses.

Monday’s votes approved $86 million in spending from Seattle’s emergency reserves on new economic relief for residents and small businesses during the COVID-19 economic crisis and signed-off on a $200 million a year plan to create new affordable housing across the city including funds specified to address displacement in the Central District.

“With a new progressive revenue and a detailed spending plan that prioritizes food security for low-income families, Green New Deal policies, small business support, and new resources for our homeless neighbors and immigrant and refugee community, we are ready to truly JumpStart Seattle’s economy by ensuring our most vulnerable residents are not left behind during this pandemic and we build a more resilient economy as we recover,” council budget chair Teresa Mosqueda said about the plan. Continue reading

In Seattle’s spending plan for new tax on big businesses, a small victory for housing in the Central District

Sawant had the backing of Black faith leaders in the call for new money for housing dedicated to addressing historical wrongs in the Central District (Image: Low Income Housing Institute)

On a big day for the Seattle City Council, Kshama Sawant is celebrating a small victory for housing in the Central District.

As part of a busy morning of sorting out how best to spend the some $200 million a year expected to be generated by the city’s newly approved tax on big businesses, the council’s budget committee approved Sawan’ts amendment calling for at least $18 million year in the new tax spending plan to fund the construction of new affordable housing in the Central District.

“Thanks to our powerful community movement, $18 million will be set aside annually beginning in 2022, to build affordable housing in the Central District for Black working-class and poor families,” Sawant said Thursday in a press release on the approval. “It represents a minimum floor of investment, not a ceiling, because other housing funds in the Amazon tax “spending plan” resolution, the Housing Levy, and other sources also can and should be accessed for affordable housing development in the neighborhood.”

Sawant’s win represents a compromise victory. The socialist city council member had originally called for a $50 million dedicated fund for the area with the backing of Seattle Black clergy and faith leaders (PDF):

We call for City Council to enact a progressive tax on big business to fund housing and services, including construction of at least 1,000 homes in the Central Area to bring back households that have been displaced over the years by racist gentrification.

The coalition said the dedicated funding “would begin to undo racist gentrification policies that private developers and the city have been responsible for creating and perpetuating over the years.”

The Central District funding is joined by amendments earmarking millions for new “tiny home” villages in the city and further relief for small businesses pummeled by the COVID-19 crisis.

The full JumpStart tax funding resolution including the dedicated Central District housing funding now goes to the full City Council for a final vote on Monday.


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Seattle will, indeed, ‘Tax Amazon’ as $200M+ JumpStart tax on big businesses approved

People living unsheltered during the COVID-19 outbreak (Image: City of Seattle)

Mosqueda

Seattle City Council budget chair Teresa Mosqueda thanked District 3 representative Kshama Sawant for the “dialogue” Monday as the body approved Mosqueda’s “JumpStart” plan for a new “progressive revenue” tax on the largest Seattle businesses.

“Seattle residents have made it clear – now is not the time for government austerity or divisiveness,” Mosqueda said in a statement following Monday’s full council approval. “Investing in communities of color, small businesses, and community health leads to a more robust and resilient economy. We are in the midst of a health and economic crisis that even a strong economy like Seattle may not be able to recover from quickly.”

“Thank you to the large coalition of community organizations who supported this plan – investing in Seattle is investing in our economy and our future,” Mosqueda said. Continue reading

Tax Amazon calls for support against ‘corporate loopholes’ as Seattle Council votes on ‘progressive revenue’ tax on big businesses

Seattle’s bid to create a new pool of “progressive revenue” to help the city overcome the economic downturn expected to stem from the COVID-19 crisis faces its final vote with the Seattle City Council Monday afternoon.\

Budget chair Teresa Mosqueda’s plan for a tax on big businesses is hoped to help Seattle overcome its forecasted budget shortfalls due to COVID-19 and to fund affordable housing, equitable development, and economic support for small businesses through a new tax on the city’s largest businesses that could generate more than $200 million a year. Continue reading

Seattle a step away from approving new ‘progressive revenue’ tax on big businesses to help overcome COVID-19 budget crisis

With reporting by Seattle City Council Insight

Taking a route closer to the middle ground on bridging Seattle’s coming COVID-19 crisis revenue gap, the Seattle City Council approved “progressive revenue bill” CB 119810 out of committee Wednesday, that will create a new tax on the city’s largest businesses that could generate more than $200 million a year for city services.

“Today we voted on a major structural change in how we finance public services,” South Seattle rep and co-sponsor Tammy Morales said about the passage. “Throughout this renewed budget conversation, I voiced my strong desire to see a sizable progressive revenue package that begins to address the enormity of the issues our city faces.”

The proposal will create a payroll expense tax on businesses located in Seattle with more than $7 million in gross payroll on “high income earning employees.” Continue reading

Seattle City Council: Amazon tax alternative, biased loitering laws, and a capital gains tax proposal

Catching up on a few things at City Hall not directly related to the Capitol Hill protest zone, here are a few recent updates from the Seattle City Council:

  • Loitering laws: The council Monday voted to repeal two loitering laws advocates say have been used by police to target Black and Indigenous people and other people of color and vulnerable populations like sex workers. “I’ve committed to preventing disproportionate impacts on communities of color by police interactions and this is just one fix to our city laws,” said council member Alex Pedersen, one of three on the council bringing the bills forward for Monday’s unanimous votes. Seattle Police leeway to arrest people Seattle Reentry Workgroup formed “Continue reading

Seattle City Council looking at $200M alternative to Sawant-Morales Amazon tax

Early designs for the Amazon spheres

With reporting by SCC Insight

Seattle City Council member Teresa Mosqueda has unveiled her own progressive revenue proposal for the city, which is at once both a “light” version of her colleagues’ “Amazon tax” proposal, and also even more explicitly targeted at the online retailing giant.

It has been Seattle’s worst-kept secret that Mosqueda has been shopping around various forms of an alternative to the $500 million payroll tax that council members Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales introduced earlier this year. Tuesday, Mosqueda called a press conference with representatives from business, labor, and advocacy groups to highlight the efforts she has put into trying to build a consensus around her proposal, which she calls “Jump Start Seattle.

Under the proposal to help the city bridge an estimated $550 million budget shortfall from the COVID-19 crisis, companies with payrolls of $7 million or more would be taxed 0.7% for every employee making over $150,000, and 1.4% for employees making over $500,000. In the near term, the tax would not go into effect until 2021 so Mosqueda’s proposal would borrow from emergency and general funds. Later the tax would be used to replenish the borrowed funds and then provide around $200 million a year for affordable housing, equitable development, and economic support for small businesses. Mosqueda’s office says around 97% of businesses in Seattle would be exempted from the tax. Continue reading