Schedule urgent Budget Committee hearings on Tax Amazon legislation!

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My letter to Budget Committee Chair Teresa Mosqueda.

April 6, 2020

Dear Councilmember Mosqueda: 

I am writing to you, as chair of the Select Budget Committee, to find out when you plan to conduct the committee’s first hearing on the Tax Amazon package of legislation that is sponsored by my office and by Councilmember Tammy Morales. 

The 5,500-plus community members who’ve signed our petition to City Council, and the 1,100-plus community members who wrote to our offices in recent days, are all saying the same thing: City Council must immediately pass the Tax Amazon legislation to provide emergency relief.

As chair of the committee now handling the legislation, it is now your duty to announce the first hearing promptly. As I said in the City Council meeting this afternoon, I am looking forward to working with you to develop a committee hearing agenda, to make sure that community and working people’s voices are heard.

For working-class households, COVID-19 is a triple-emergency. It began as a public health emergency. With tens of thousands of Seattle residents being laid off in just the last three weeks, it’s rapidly transforming into a jobs and housing emergency as well.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, more than 100,000 Seattle households, including both renters and homeowners, were considered “cost-burdened” – paying more than 30 percent of income on housing costs. Many of the people in these households are doubtless unemployed now, or facing the real prospect of unemployment.

In just the last two weeks of March, nearly 82,000 King County residents filed new unemployment claims, according to the state Employment Security Department, and you and I know that is a significant undercount because gig economy workers, independent contractors, and workers in the informal economy don’t usually apply when they lose work because they haven’t in the past qualified for benefits.

As Harvard economist Kenneth S. Rogoff has said, we might see “the mother of all financial crises.” That’s why it’s urgent that the City Council enact this Tax Amazon legislation – without delay or watering down – to rescue working class families now, and to enact an aggressive program of building social housing – permanently-affordable and publicly-controlled housing, and green upgrades to existing housing. This will also create jobs in construction, manufacturing, and the service industries, to get people back to work in the months and years ahead.

The Select Budget Committee, which you chair, must act now, as thousands of community activists await your swift announcement of the committee’s calendar. Please reach out to me and my office in any way necessary to move forward quickly.


Kshama Sawant