Tax on jobs vote and what’s next

By: Editorial Staff Posted: 05/16/2018

Business community presented a united front in opposition to the tax

On May 14, the Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to enact a tax on jobs. The Seattle Metro Chamber continues to believe that taxing jobs is not the best way to address regional homelessness.  

We were clear from the start about our opposition to this tax. With our partners in the business community and businesses of all sizes, we presented a united front:

  • The Council has demonstrated an alarming recklessness about spending. Even with record revenues, including $700 million per year from business taxes for the general fund, the City's budget director has warned that the City is facing deficits in 2019 and 2020.
  • This is about using our resources on what works. Our region needs an aligned, accountable approach with a focus on outcome-focused solutions guided by the best practices laid out by Pathways Home and the Poppe report.
  • We need a regional approach with measurable outcomes to address this regional challenge and urge the City to coordinate its work with the One Table effort.

Thanks to each of you who stuck to this consistent message and who showed up when it mattered most. Together, we created significant pressure that made a difference.

Two months ago, many thought a permanent $75-150 million tax was a foregone conclusion. What passed yesterday - a $45-50 million tax that sunsets in 5 years - is a bill that will hold Council responsible for producing results. We thank Mayor Durkan for her leadership on this issue in this highly politicized atmosphere, as well as Councilmembers Bagshaw, Johnson, and Juarez and Council President Harrell for raising important questions throughout the process.

Moving forward, the Chamber will continue to advocate for responsible, effective solutions that advance our vision of a region where businesses can flourish, and everyone has the opportunity to succeed and to access a thriving quality of life.

With respect to the regional challenges of homelessness and housing affordability, the next steps are clear. Our elected leaders can make long-lasting, sustained change through two policies that do not require a dime of revenue:

  1. Pass common sense zoning laws that will allow more housing to be built citywide and do not discourage development.
  2. Fix our fragmented regional system for homelessness services.

This should serve as a strong reminder to our business community that elections matter. We need responsible, accountable leaders on City Council. Looking ahead to 2019, we hope you'll consider donating to our political arm, CASE, and I invite you to contact Jen Berg, our new PAC manager.