Seattle’s fiscal budget process has begun. This week in politics
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s final budget proposal includes payroll tax revenue from the city’s largest businesses. The JumpStart tax was approved by the Seattle City Could to tax businesses that spend $ 7 million and more on six-figure salaries.
Durkan initially vetoed the tax plan, Council members overturned his veto, and Durkan eventually allowed it to become law – without his signature.
Now the tax plays a key role in his budget proposal.
This is just not exactly the role that city council had in mind when it approved the tax in 2020.
Council members want payroll tax to fund affordable housing, homeless programs and Green New Deal programs. The mayor’s budget uses a portion of the JumpStart funds to pay for these priorities.
But Erica C. Barnett, editor and publisher of PubliCola, says the majority of that money – $ 148 million of the $ 231 million in expected revenue from JumpStart next year – would go to the general fund to be used on a large scale. range of budget items. .
Additionally, Barnett notes that budget legislation would allow future mayors and council members to use JumpStart money as they see fit.
That’s important, Barnett says, because council members sold the tax plan as a mechanism to address a specific problem: the economic disparities that push low-income people out of Seattle.
“When you pretend that money is just fungible and it doesn’t matter what you spend a tax on, you are stepping into really, I think, fragile territory to bring taxes like this to the world. ‘future,’ says Barnett.
Political analyst and columnist Joni Balter is not particularly upset, however.
“I am neither shocked nor dismayed that politicians are moving money,” she said.
Balter and Barnett agree on one thing: Durkan’s proposal for 35 more police officers in Seattle is going to be a problem for the Council.
The mayor’s budget would provide $ 5 million to hire 125 officers, for a net gain of 35 assuming another 90 officers leave the force by the end of the year.
Barnett waits for a compromise.
Council could approve funding for additional officers but reject the mayor’s proposal for hiring bonuses – a proposal that has already been rejected by members recently.
Balter has for some time predicted a change in attitude towards the SPD budget.
“Last year, city council focused on removing the police department. This year the mood is different,” she said. “Violent crime is on the rise. Response times are dropping. … I think that puts some Council members on the spot. “
Specifically, Balter said city council chairwoman Lorena González may want to rethink her stance on the police budget in her bid to replace Durkan.
The mayoral race in November isn’t the only competition that heats up as Seattle cools.
Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant faces a recall campaign. Supporters accuse Sawant of various offenses, including using city resources to promote a ballot initiative and letting protesters enter City Hall during protests last June.
The reminder will appear on a winter ballot now slated for December 7.
And on this subject, there is agreement: “Recalls,” Balter says, “are usually a waste of time and money.”
“I would rather have voters cast their votes in a more thoughtful and studied manner in regular elections than trying to get it right with an overhaul.”
Sawant might not have anything to be nervous about, Barnett said, but she certainly takes him seriously.
To what end?
Barnett puts it plainly: “It’s just a lot of political theater that’s completely unnecessary.