“Simply put, if Black Lives Matter, then affordable housing for Black families in the Central Area should matter.”— Reverend Carey Anderson, pastor of Seattle’s First African Methodist Episcopal Church
I am pleased that the Council is now seriously considering passing a historic tax on Amazon and the other top 3 percent big businesses in Seattle, with seven out of the nine Councilmembers having publicly pledged their support, making it a veto-proof majority.
The fact that the City Council might now be moving forward together on an Amazon Tax is entirely and exclusively due to the thousands who have been fighting for the Tax Amazon movement, including black and brown community members and leaders, multi-racial community organizers, LGBTQ community members, immigrants, rank-and-file union members, Democratic party rank-and-file, and socialists.
The Democrats’ version of the Amazon Tax legislation, which is now co-sponsored by five Councilmembers, falls well short of what our community needs, but would be a real, substantive step forward. My office and the Tax Amazon movement are ready to work with any Councilmember to strengthen the legislation in the days ahead and remove its corporate loopholes, so that we can pass the Amazon Tax legislation that addresses the scale of the human crisis in our city.
Today (June 26) my office detailed several amendments (below) that I will be proposing to strengthen that legislation. I urge Councilmembers to join me in supporting these amendments in addition to supporting the Amazon Tax in general. and I would welcome co-sponsorship on any of these amendments.
My amendments, which are described in my letter to Councilmembers, would:
- Increase the Democrats’ Amazon Tax rate to raise at least $500 million/year, and address the unprecedented scale of the housing unaffordability and homelessness crisis.
- Completely reject the Mayor’s austerity program and allow the Council to pass a zero-cuts budget, by increasing the amount to be raised with the Amazon Tax by an additional $293 million/year.
- Put substance behind the slogan Black Lives Matter by increasing the tax to fund the construction of at least 1,000 new affordable homes in the Central District to allow African-American households to return to the neighborhood. This is a core demand that African-American faith leaders called for earlier this month, and I urge the City Council to unanimously support the community demand by voting for this amendment.
- Increase the tax rate in the Democrats’ Amazon Tax legislation to bring in an additional $50 million/year to be used for Green New Deal Investments, to reduce Seattle’s climate pollution by insulating and weatherizing tens of thousands of homes and installing efficient, renewable energy systems, in the process creating or supporting more than 22,000 jobs in the next decade.
- Eliminate the outrageous sunset clause from the Democrats’ Amazon Tax bill. The proposed sunset is a sop to big business, a slap in the face of working people and small business owners who in Seattle have long shouldered the overwhelming burden of taxation while big business gets handouts.
- Advance the start date for the Amazon Tax to Aug. 1, 2020, to bring the city an additional $74.5 million for use in 2021, providing essential, urgently-needed funds for our community. I am pleased to be sponsoring this amendment with Councilmember Lisa Herbold.