SEATTLE – Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide and Chair of the Select Budget Committee) published her balancing package today.
Despite looming economic uncertainty and the highest inflation in decades, Councilmember Mosqueda’s balancing package rejects austerity and prioritizes keeping our community cared for and housed, connected and resilient, and healthy and safe.
Less than two weeks after the City received a dire economic forecast, projecting a net $64 million decrease in the Real Estate Excise Tax, a net $9.4 million decrease in the General Fund, and a net $4.5 million decrease in Sweetened Beverage Tax revenues over the biennium, Mosqueda unveiled a package that centers anti-austerity measures, funds historic investments into affordable housing and addressing homelessness, and prioritizes a city of the future through investments in climate resilience.
“There weren’t easy answers in this year’s budget, but there were core values to start from: transparency and accountability, investing in key and core city services for our working families and small businesses, and preventing cliffs in services and avoiding austerity to ensure a resilient economy,” said Chair Mosqueda.
Much of the 2023-2024 budget investments protect heavily stakeholdered policies and balance with the support from higher than anticipated revenue from the historic JumpStart Seattle progressive payroll tax, and use of the Short-Term Rental Tax and Transportation Network Company Tax to balance the budget. Mosqueda’s balancing package immediately ends the temporary usage of these funds at the end of the biennium to allow for investments to grow in affordable housing, economic resilience, Green New Deal, transit investments, and the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI).
Over the past seven weeks, the Council has engaged the community in dialogue about the Mayor’s proposed budget: convened two public hearings, eight public committee meetings, listened to hundreds of community members, and Councilmembers have proposed 100 amendments. That constant dialogue informed a budget that will work to move Seattle forward through the biennium, with key investments on core and emerging needs. Key investments include:
- Human service provider inflationary increases to stay true to previously passed legislation and ensure our city’s domestic violence, homelessness, and food security providers do not fall farther behind;
- $20 million each year in Equitable Development Initiative projects that advance economic opportunity, prevent displacement, and meet community needs with developments that include things like housing, childcare, space for small business, cultural and community space;
- $20 million Green New Deal investments each year, including nearly $4 million in investments to create community climate resilience hubs, $4.6 million for indigenous-led sustainability projects, and $1.8 million to community-led environmental justice projects;
- A $9 million investment each year into School Based Health Centers, including a new $3 million investment across the biennium for mental health services in schools in response to demand for more mental health providers; Funding the Seattle Fire Department emergency response capacity by funding the medic unit at Fire Station 26 and the ladder truck at Fire Station 27 to continue to serve West Seattle and South Park;
- Created a combined total of $1.5 million in 2023 for abortion care to ensure access to comprehensive reproductive care for uninsured individuals in Seattle; and,
- An historic $253 million investment into the Office of Housing for affordable housing – that is an over $50 million increase over last budget for building rental housing, more supportive services, and first-time ownership opportunities only made possible by JumpStart, and that amount is just for 2023 with an increase in 2024
Other key investments in the Initial Balancing Package may be found here.
“This year, we saw a new partnership between the City Budget Office, Mayor Harrell’s office and Council – we have had honest, open, and transparent conversations, especially as we are jointly concerned and invested in closing the revenue gap, protecting the most vulnerable, buoying our local economy, and investing in city services which will help us recover faster and more equitably,” said Mosqueda. “While the staff’s work is done to balance this budget, and it deserves immense respect and applause, to budget sustainably for the next biennium we must include new progressive revenue. We cannot continue with the short-term solutions delicately balanced in this biennial budget. I will work hard in 2023 with Senior Deputy Mayor Harrell, as co-chairs of the Seattle Revenue Stabilization Workgroup, and the community appointees and my colleagues to ensure our City has the progressive revenue tools we need.”
Now that the balancing package has been released, both the public and Councilmembers will begin reviewing the proposal in full, and will have the opportunity to weigh-in.
The last of three public hearings dedicated to public comment is scheduled to occur tomorrow – Tuesday, November 15 at 5 PM at City Hall. People wishing to testify can participate online and are encouraged to do so given the ongoing nature of COVID. In-person testimony will be accepted as well.
Councilmembers may now create amendments to the balancing package. Amendments are due at noon on Wednesday, November 16. Councilmembers will vote on those amendments and the entire balancing package next week, on Monday, November 21 at 9:30 AM.
The final votes on the budget will take place on Monday, November 28 and Tuesday, November 29. For more information about the budget, please reference the Budget Committee page as well as a guide on the Council’s budget process.