Kshama Sawant announces a ‘Plan B’ for repealed Seattle head tax

Oct 24, 2018, 9:55 AM | Updated: 10:44 am
head tax, sawant, plan b...
Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant announces a "Plan B" to replace the council's repealed head tax at city hall, Oct. 24, 2018. (Hann Scott, KIRO Radio)
(Hann Scott, KIRO Radio)

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant announced a new plan to raise millions for affordable housing Wednesday, four months after her council colleagues repealed a controversial head tax.

Sawant calls it a “Plan B.” She aims to raise $48 million each year through “the People’s Budget Movement.” It would be the same amount from the council’s head tax that was passed earlier this year, then repealed in June. Among a series of funding ideas that Sawant and advocates are proposing are cuts to police equipment and hiring, as well as city executive salaries. They also propose a bond measure among other options.

“There is a serious housing affordability crisis that has been raging in this city,” Sawant said at a news conference Wednesday morning. “… nearly 23,000 very poor working families are paying more than half of their income in rent. I mention this because these are families who have not lost their housing yet … They are households that are one rent increase, or one small financial crisis away from being evicted from their homes.”

The city council is currently engaged in its annual budget discussions. Sawant argued that Mayor Durkan’s proposed budget only allocates .8 percent of funding for affordable housing.

“This is not a serious approach dealing with the biggest crisis that all our working people are facing in the city,” Sawant said.

The $48 million Sawant aims to raise would fund “hundreds of units of publicly-funded permanently affordable housing.”

Three options

The Plan B proposal includes three options. Option 2 proposes to bring back the “Amazon Tax,” also known as the head tax. Option 3 is a $480 million bond to build 3,000-5,000 homes. The city would pay off the bond at $36 million, annually. Option 1 proposes to raise money through a series of cuts to city programs and salaries that Sawant argues are less important than affordable housing.

The cuts, and their savings, include:

  • Stopping sweeps of homeless encampments: $7,662,000 savings
  • Cut new computers in cop cars: $7,100,000
  • No tolls on city streets: $1 million
  • Cut mayor and council member salaries to area median income of $70,200: $655,724
  • Cap city executive salaries at $150,000: $5,091,867
  • Slow new police officer hiring “because funding affordable housing will help reduce crime more”: $12,000,000
  • Reduce number of city executives, “because everyone has too many bosses”; eliminate vacant executive positions: $14,500,000

Backing Sawant’s Plan B are a series of housing advocates, including:

  • Amy Tower, Tenants Union of Washington state
  • Tim Harris, Real Change
  • Zoe Schurman, Zero Hour Seattle: Youth Climate Movement
  • Kailyn Nicholson, Socialist Alternative
  • David Parsons, UAW 4121 (Union of Academic Student Employees)
  • Juan Jose Bocanegra, May 1 Action Committee for El Comité
  • Shaun Scott, Seattle Democratic Socialists of America
  • Scott Morrow with Nickelsville and SHARE WHEEL

The city council had spent months on Seattle’s first head tax, which taxed employee hours worked at the city’s largest companies. But the idea caused a divide in Seattle. Not only did the business community fight it, many unions were vocal about their opposition. Sawant was yelled down by union members at one demonstration in front of Amazon’s headquarters. Amazon also halted construction on its expanding headquarters in Seattle while the council debated the head tax.

Shortly after the council passed the tax, it was repealed. Officials said that a community effort to repeal the tax was gaining support. Had that repeal effort gone to voters for a final decision, the city could have been on the hook for the costs. Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Kshama Sawant did not support the repeal bill.

Local News

ballot, napkin vote, approval voting...
Nick Bowman

Group seeking to change how Seattle voting works builds large early war chest

A push to dramatically alter the way Seattle votes in primary elections is already getting significant financial support in its early days.
20 hours ago
KIRO 7 News Staff

77-year-old Bellevue woman stops home intruder in landslide neighborhood

Thieves hit the neighborhood impacted by the Bellevue landslide but didn’t get away with much, thanks to one brave 77-year-old woman.
2 days ago
national guard...
Stephanie Klein

National Guard arrives to Harborview Medical Center to help with COVID testing

A Seattle hospital official says the arrival of 10 army soldiers on Friday is a huge help.
3 days ago
End restrictions...
Nick Bowman

UW modelers: State might finally be able to end ‘major restrictions’ once omicron wave passes

Modelers at UW's Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation believe that we could be nearing the end stages of major virus-related restrictions. 
3 days ago
Long term care insurance...
Nicole Jennings

Analyst’s advice for Washingtonians who got private long-term care insurance

An Association of Washington Business analyst explains the outlook for private long-term care insurance now that the WA Cares tax will likely be delayed.
3 days ago
COVID tests...
MyNorthwest Staff

Washington households can order at-home rapid COVID tests at no cost

The state Department of Health is going live with its portal to order free at-home COVID tests that ship directly to households.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Kshama Sawant announces a ‘Plan B’ for repealed Seattle head tax