City council passes scaled-down head tax

Seattle City Councilmembers debate dueling head-tax proposals on Friday May 11

City council passes scaled-down head tax

The council approved the tax which is expected to raise about $48 million (€40 million) annually to pay for affordable housing and services for homeless people. It sunsets in 2023.

Before the vote, Gonzalez said the city "has an obligation to take care of the people who are surviving and suffering on our city streets". From member station KUOW in Seattle, Carolyn Adolph reports. The task force wanted the council to use other potential progressive revenue sources to generate an additional $75 million.

Speaking ahead of the City Council's final vote on Monday, Sawant argued that "as long as big business controls the wealth in society, and controls what is built and where.they will create a race to the bottom around the world". So far, mayors in other cities competing for HQ2, as the project is sometimes called, have taken a wait-and-see approach. But its most vocal critic may have been Amazon, which threatened to stop construction on new facilities in the city and put 7,000 jobs on hold over the tax proposal.

Under the approved head tax, 591 units of mixed-income housing and permanent supportive housing are expected to be created in the five-year spending plan.

Starbucks had also fought against the tax, with its public affairs chief, John Kelly, accusing the city of continuing to "spend without reforming and fail without accountability, while ignoring the plight of hundreds of children sleeping outside". Sawant and fellow members of the Socialist Alternative party organized and led Saturday's march... The tax that made it across the finish line is actually smaller than the original proposal the city was considering. About 100 demonstrators rallied in front of Seattle Central College before marching to Amazon's headquarters in South Lake Union.

"Make no mistake", Sawant said, "money is power under capitalism".

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Meanwhile, Schoesler says state Attorney General Bob Ferguson has been "strangely silent" on the topic. "The results are getting worse every year", he said.

"We have community members who are dying", Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said before the vote, according to The Seattle Times.

Less than two weeks after Amazon flexed its muscles by pausing construction planning on an expansion of its new headquarters in the city, the Seattle City Council voted in favor of a new tax on large employers that was at the center of the dispute. Starbucks and Uwajimaya were among other businesses that weighed in against the original legislation. Seattle home prices are rising faster there than anywhere else in the country.

Seattle and King County declared a state of emergency over homelessness in 2015, but since then, cost-of-living pressures have worsened. If tax proponents are looking for a swing vote to help them override Durkan's veto (and there is precedent for this kind of vote-switching), Johnson may be their best bet. "This legislation will help us address our homelessness crisis without jeopardising critical jobs".

The company expressed disappointment with the outcome.

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