May 11, 2018 | 9:53 EDT
A message from Seattle Councilmembers M. Lorena González, Lisa Herbold, Teresa Mosqueda, and Mike O’Brien:
Dear Local Progress members,
We write to you as Local Progress members requesting your assistance on our effort to win a progressive tax for housing and homelessness in Seattle.
Seattle finds itself in a critical moment as we debate who should bear the burden of generating additional revenue to address our affordability, housing, and homelessness crises. We continue to believe that these three items are symptoms of the larger income inequality and growing wealth gap that has taken hold of Seattle and many cities like Seattle. Growth that benefits only a few results in city revenues that cannot keep up with the increased cost of city services and, as a consequence, the costs of those city services increasingly fall on small and medium sized businesses, homeowners, and renters alike. Many of you may have seen the news in recent weeks that our city is considering a progressive business tax to help address these crises.
We ask that all of you as Local Progress members and progressive leaders across the country sign on in support of our efforts to make sure this progressive tax on three-percent of Seattle’s largest for-profit corporations passes on Monday.
Under our progressive tax plan, $75 million would be generated annually from approximately 585 of the City’s largest businesses, with three-quarters of that going toward additional affordable housing. This was never a proposal targeting one company, but Amazon made the conversation about them when they expressed their intentions to pause construction on their new office tower pending a vote on our Progressive Tax on Business. Amazon is a company that reported record-breaking profits of nearly $2 billion in one quarter; it would pay about $20 million annually toward this new tax.
The lack of affordable housing is a crisis for our entire city. While Amazon didn’t single-handedly cause this problem, they have contributed to the growing income inequality, displacement and housing affordability issues facing our city. That is precisely why — in their visits with 20 other cities — Amazon has sought to speak with elected officials about plans to proactively address those consequences. It seems only fair that as so many struggle to make their way through a tax system that’s rigged in favor of large corporations, that we ask those same corporations to financially contribute to the public health and housing solutions designed to address those consequences.
We are proud of our city, and our place as a leader at the forefront of progressive municipal policy. Sometimes as we take on big fights with national implications, it is important to lift up that connection. Many of you have common cause with Seattle and we believe that a successful effort here will be critically important for the work to create equitable communities across the country.
Our full council vote on the Progressive Tax on Business is currently set for Monday, May 14, at 2 pm PST. We encourage you to sign on before then.
Our cities are great because they are diverse and interconnected, and they should be accessible and equitable for all who live in them. As local leaders, we are charged with this mission, but we are stronger in realizing our shared values when we stand together.
M. Lorena González
Seattle City Council