Seattle City Council Repeals Tax on Jobs to Benefit Homeless, after Big Biz Applies Pressure
From the Wall Street Journal:
“The tax would have, starting next year, levied $275 per employee on companies with more than $20 million in annual revenue, or about 3% of Seattle-based businesses, according to the City Council. It was projected to raise about $47 million a year, to be spent on affordable-housing and homeless services.”
From KIRO Radio:
The Seattle City Council both passed and repealed its head tax in less than a month. The legislation itself and the activity surrounding it shows that it was about much more than the head tax, according to KIRO Nights. It was all about Seattle residents’ relationship with the city council.
The Monday vote was 7-2 and appears to be the result of a private council meeting far from the reach of Kwasha Sawant. She alleged the repeal was the result of a backroom betrayal.
“I think for the first time we saw true leadership coming from Mayor Jenny Durkan,” said KIRO Radio’s Zak Burns. “She gets this meeting to happen. She convinced the council members that this head tax wasn’t a good idea. It’s not worth angering an overwhelming majority of the businesses and citizens here.”
Previously expected to raise $47 million annually, the tax would have applied to more than 500 businesses and cost them $275 per employee every year. A repeal campaign quickly sprang up after it passed on May 14. The No Tax on Jobs Coalition gathered 40,000 signatures and included the support of companies like Amazon, Dick’s Drive-In, and Zillow, among others.
“I think Mayor Durkan realizes that all this anger had little to do with the head tax,” Zak said. “This was a referendum on the city council themselves. Here they are asking for more money when they have no proven track record on past spending in terms of success.”
Council members Teresa Mosqueda and Sawant were the only no votes, not entirely a surprise considering that Sawant said that “Jeff Bezos is our enemy” before the vote. Head tax supporters shouted chants that caused some council members to walk out after voting.