Chair Mosqueda Releases Council’s Draft 2021 Budget Package

Home » Chair Mosqueda Releases Council’s Draft 2021 Budget Package

Shortfalls now responsibly balanced, makes new investments in housing, health and safety

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide), Chair of Council’s Budget Committee provided the City Council’s 2021 budget package, which is centered on equity and economic recovery by focusing on housing, health and safety earlier today.  Chair Mosqueda – with the input and amendments from all of her Council colleagues, residents, small businesses and community groups – published the “balancing package” on Monday morning and will make a formal presentation during the Council’s Select Budget Committee meeting on Tuesday, November 10, with public comment occurring at the beginning of the meeting. 

Mayor Jenny Durkan transmitted her proposed 2021 budget to Council on September 29, 2020.  Since that time the Council has held more than 12 hours of public comment, including two five-hour public hearings, individual town hall events and deliberation of more than 120 amendments. The Council crafted the budget in the midst of compounding crises: a global pandemic, an historic economic depression, global warming, and a racial reckoning demanding that Black Lives Matter — – all of which affect Black and brown communities disproportionately.

“Overlapping crises on top of a five-year affordable housing and homelesness State of Emergency have exposed how Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community members are being consciously or unconsciously left behind in public investments. COVID-19, the economic downturn, and a civil rights uprising have led us to good questions about who we are as a city and who we want to be. There is much work to do, most of which cannot be done in one year.  I am proud this draft balancing package prevents austerity budgeting, invests in restorative justice models, and enhances mental health services and community-oriented health and safety models. It puts funds in the emergency reserves proposed to be drained to near-zero by the Mayor, while making new and continued investments in community-oriented public health models, homelessness, housing, and safety for all Seattleites. I believe this revised draft budget begins to reflect our shared priorities for our city as we take important steps to promote a more equitable economic recovery, house our residents, invest in our health, grow community public safety models, and ensure that everyone is safe in our city,” said Mosqueda. 

The Council’s revised budget reflects key priorities expressed by those we were elected to serve.  Selected highlights for the balancing package include prioritizing the economic recovery of Seattle by ensuring we are investing in housing, our health, environment and community safety.

Economic Recovery: The COVID crisis has hit communities of color, our smallest businesses, and “essential” low-wage workers the hardest. Recovering equitably from the COVID-19 recession means maintaining protections and investments in our workforce, providing support for impacted businesses, and investing in the core services our community relies upon.  Examples include: Restoring 17 positions proposed for budgetary layoffs in HSD, OED, OPCD, SDOT, and SFD (Mosqueda); developing strategies to support farmers markets (Strauss); investing in bridge safety (Pedersen); and, requesting Seattle Public Libraries open branches for curbside pickup and return services (Lewis), among many more investments.

Housing: Seattle was in the midst of an affordable housing and homelessness crisis prior to the onset of COVID-19.  The economic impacts of COVID added additional pressures on households that were already on the brink of homelessness. The need to invest in housing stability supports and homelessness response is greater than ever. Council’s draft budget prioritizes investments that prevent our most vulnerable neighbors from falling into homelessness, helps get folks out of unsafe congregate shelters, off the streets and into safer shelter and housing options, and invests in more deeply affordable housing to prevent people from cycling back into homelessness.  Examples include: Home for Good program (González); the creation of the H.O.P.E. team (or Homeless Outreach and Provider Ecosystem); City Wide Homelessness outreach (Strauss); Aurora Commons Redevelopment (Juarez); Creating a New Tiny Home Village (Pedersen); increasing services at organizations that help Native communities experiencing homelessness, such as the Chief Seattle Club (Juarez); and, restoring $30M from the Mercer Mega Block proceeds for the Strategic Investment Fund for community-driven property acquisitions to fight displacement (Sawant), among many more investments.

Health: The COVID-19 pandemic has taken more than 800 lives in King County and while our regional and local response has slowed down the spread, we are still vulnerable.  Our health is compromised when we don’t have access to clean water to wash our hands, regular meals to keep our families fed, access to mental health or substance abuse counseling, and support to find a safe place to live. This budget is centered on promoting the social determinants of health. Some examples include:  Expansion of the Fresh Bucks program (Strauss); creating a third “Health One” Unit (Mosqueda); crisis counseling for firefighters (Mosqueda); mental health investments (Strauss); and life saving equipment for firefighters (Herbold), among many more investments.

Green New Deal: Climate change has a disproportionate impact on low-income households and BIPOC communities and we must act with urgency to shore up climate resilient communities and our economy. In this package, the Council adds critical climate response investments so we are not waiting on investments and interventions that constantly get back-burnered. Examples include: Green New Deal Advisor (Sawant); Building Energy Efficiency (González); a Climate Advisor (Strauss); Georgetown to Southpark Trail fully funded (Morales); Route 44 Multimodal Project Connector (Strauss); Rainier Avenue sidewalks in SE Seattle (Morales), and many more investments.

Community Safety: Meeting people’s basic needs (such as housing, food, mental health care, domestic and gun violence prevention, education and job service) contribute to a reduction of police interactions and entanglement with the criminal legal system. Community organizations and mutual aid networks have been doing this work for years. This budget continues to invest in alternatives to policing, and redirects cost savings in the police department to community-centered safety responses, while scaling up community groups who have expertise in early intervention and non-criminal response efforts. Council is balancing divestment and investment, and taking a necessary step that can be taken at this juncture to address years of over-investment and reliance on punitive systems. Examples include: cutting SPD vacancy savings and imposing a proviso (González); overtime savings (Herbold); restorative justice models (Herbold); a restorative justice pilot program by DEEL (Morales); programming for Black girls and young women and Black queer and trans youth (González); and $10M for community-led public safety investments (Herbold), investment in Paticipatory Budgeting, or PB,  (Morales), among many more actions.

“It’s been an honor to work with my Council colleagues and the community during this unprecedented time,” Mosqueda concluded. “As Budget Chair, I want to ensure our city can prepare for not just for this winter, but all of 2021 and beyond by maintaining the services we all need, and making new investments in our economic recovery, climate change, health, safety and housing for everyone.”

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