Why state senator believes Seattle's head tax 'will be revoked'

16 May, 2018, 07:54 | Author: Regina Lloyd
  • Protesters attend the Seattle City Council finance committee meeting Friday May 11. The committee voted 5-4 to reject Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposal of a more modest tax on large employers to address the city’s homelessness crisis.(Steve Ringman  The

After months of debate, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a $275-per-employee tax on for-profit companies that make more than $20 million a year.

As you know, on May 2nd, a top Amazon executive stated the company was "putting a pause" on expansion in Seattle in an attempt to influence the city council to reject a proposed $0.26/hour tax on the largest companies in the city to address our housing and homelessness crisis.

The ordinance calls for the tax to sunset after five years, with renewal requiring a council vote in 2023. But she said she was proud the plan for a new tax had "evolved more towards progressivity" and would do things like protect the city's small businesses.

The levy, scheduled to take effect in 2019, is expected to raise about $47 million a year to construct affordable housing and to provide emergency services for the homeless.

Supporters of a Seattle tax hike on large businesses chanted "we'll be back for more" after its passage on Monday.

"The City of Seattle has an obligation to take care of those people who are suffering on our city's streets", Gonzalez said prior to Monday's vote.

The council voted 5-4 on Friday, May 11, to advance a $75 million head tax for consideration on May 14, but then Mayor Jenny Durkan made it clear she would veto such legislation.

Although opposition seems to have succeeded in reducing the tax burden, it did little to convince the council that the tax itself was unsound, as today's vote indicates. "The mayor's plan for investing the funds is a better balance of addressing both immediate and long-term needs", Constantine said in a statement.




Schoesler says the City Council gets it's power to tax from the state, and because the Legislature did not approve the jobs tax, it's null and void. He's already created legislation that would override such a tax, and likely prevent any other city from passing one. Council members then negotiated over the weekend to craft a compromise that would gain greater support and was certain to win a veto-proof majority. "This will be a historic victory", Sawant told CHS Saturday before she led about 200 protesters in a "March on Amazon."

"Mayor Durkan has been working around the clock with Councilmembers, businesses and workers to forge a path forward that protects our economy and family-wage jobs while making meaningful investments in affordable housing and homelessness services".

On Saturday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee sent the City of Seattle a letter, indicating $40 million in additional funding to King County could result from the Washington budget.

No date has been set for signing the tax bill into law.

Some residents demanded more accountability and shouted their frustration over what they see is the city's failure to address crime, drug use, camping on sidewalks and in parks, and other problems associated with unauthorized homeless encampments.

Amazon vice president Drew Herdener issued a statement following the vote, expressing disappointment.

While Amazon has resumed construction planning on the downtown building, he said the company is "apprehensive about the future created by the council's hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here".

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