Seattle Passes Tax on Big Business Targeting Amazon to Fund Affordable Housing, Green New Deal

Plan prioritizes relief for small businesses, food security for families, affordable housing and essential city services

Seattle, WA – Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) and her Council colleagues today voted unanimously on two pieces of legislation to pass the JumpStart Seattle spending plan, which includes immediate COVID relief for Seattle’s families and small businesses, and long-term economic revitalization by investing in affordable housing and essential city services.

This detailed Spend Plan follows the Council passage of the JumpStart Progressive Revenue tax on Monday, July 6, 2020. Today’s vote enacted a detailed spending plan for the progressive revenues, which included a robust COVID relief bill and spending plan resolution.

“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,” Mosqueda said. “Past recessions have proven that when governments invest in small business, housing and food assistance, and support our most vulnerable – instead of imposing cuts and austerity – local economies can weather crises in a more equitable way, and local economies rebound faster. The return on our investments is proven, the multiplier effect is clear, when we invest in our community and most vulnerable, our economy will recover quicker and be more resilient.”

The COVID-19 Relief Bill centers our community’s immediate needs as a result of this pandemic and economic crisis by investing $86 million back into the community. This includes a COVID relief fund for small businesses weathering an unprecedented COVID recession, expansion of food vouchers to help those struggling to feed their families, rental assistance and funding to de-intensify the city’s shelter space, and support for our immigrant and refugee neighbors, many of whom have been denied state and federal COVID relief because of their immigrant status.

In 2021, the City would use the revenue to replenish the city’s emergency funds, while preserving city services, and supporting low-income, immigrant and homeless residents.

“PROTEC17 is proud to endorse Councilmember Mosqueda’s important JumpStart Seattle revenue package. Councilmember Mosqueda and her staff worked tirelessly with PROTEC17 and a diverse coalition of community and business groups to develop a veto-proof consensus on City Council. The package will provide much needed new revenue for the City while many of the City’s essential services are at risk. Her bill goes a long way in making sure that the City maintains its commitment to the public and continues to provide those essential services at a time when the residents of Seattle need them more than ever. This bill resonates as the City Council’s commitment to expand access to affordable housing, nutrition assistance and direct support to local small businesses when they need it the most. We thank Councilmember Mosqueda for her leadership and every other City Councilmember who helped ensure that this revenue package made it across the finish line,” said Shaun Van Eyk, Union Representative of PROTEC17.

The JumpStart Seattle spending plan resolution covers spending in 2022 and beyond with the goal of economic recovery and resiliency. Longterm, the spending plan details how the city would invest an estimated $214+ million from the progressive revenue tax.

The majority, 62 percent, would go toward housing including low-income and affordable housing, affordable homeownership programs, and a community-focused investment fund for housing that addresses Seattle’s legacy of discriminatory policies, such as redlining & racist covenants, that have harmed Seattle’s long-time Black, Indigenous, & POC communities.

“The Housing Alliance thanks Councilmember Mosqueda and the other councilmembers who joined her in passing this historic bill,” said Rachael Myers, Executive Director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. “Leadership and innovation like this is needed now more than ever. Seattle’s homelessness crisis threatens to get much worse due to the economic downturn and the need to invest in affordable housing is even more urgent. Jumpstart will help ensure that Seattle can build safe, healthy and affordable homes that our communities need to prevent and end homelessness.”

Fifteen percent of the spending is earmarked for small business assistance and worker training, including funding for equitable economic recovery prioritizing small business support, ensuring a just transition for workers and centering the city’s equity values.

“I believe we should have a state-wide income tax, unfortunately until the state legislature fixes our regressive sales tax system, Seattle must move on its own. JumpStart contains the sunset provision for when the state legislature moves, I support it. Seattle will lead and this tax will turn every business hit by it into an ally for moving the state to income tax. An austerity budget would be devastating to our city in this crisis. We need to spend our way out of it, and JumpStart has the right spending priorities with the best mechanism we have to get there. We cannot wait any longer for income tax, but Jump Start keeps the door open for the best policy to come along,” said Gay Gilmore, Co-Founder of Optimism Brewery.

The rest is allocated for Green New Deal programs, including funding to stand up the GND Advisory Committee and invest in those most impacted by climate change, community-led development projects through the city’s Equitable Development Initiative, and administrative costs.

“The collective efforts to bring the Green New Deal amendments forward from frontline communities, Native organizers, climate and environmental justice activists, the labor movement and elected officials shows what can be accomplished to protect lands, air, water, community health, labor rights and address the climate crisis when we work together,” said Matt Remle (Lakota) co-founder of Mazaska Talks, “Seattle has the opportunity to be a global leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while ensuring a just transition for workers and building affordable and green housing.”

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