After the massive public relations buildup by Kshama Sawant and other socialists to pass their employee head tax boondoggle, just weeks later the Seattle city council has now pledged to repeal it. Late Monday, the city council President Bruce Harrell —with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan— said in a statement that they would end the tax.
The tax was said to “combat rising homelessness” as housing prices have skyrocketed in the city of Seattle.
“We heard you,” Durkan said in a statement. “This week, the City Council is moving forward with the consideration of legislation to repeal the current tax on large businesses to address the homelessness crisis.”
This turnaround happened as business groups, led by megacorporations Amazon and Starbucks, raised over $200,000 —with up to $350,000 pledged— in the wake of the passage of the law to gather signatures for a referendum to repeal the new tax. They were due to submit the signatures Tuesday for consideration for the fall ballot.
Marilyn Strickland of the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce praised the move, “The announcement from Mayor Durkan and the City Council is the breath of fresh air Seattle needs.”
“Repealing the tax on jobs gives our region the chance to address homelessness in a productive, focused and unified way.”
As Sparta Report previously reported on the employee head tax, the business tax would have fallen on businesses that generated more than $20 million in revenue. There are currently 585 businesses in Seattle that qualified and would have had to pay a $275-per-employee tax.
The Seattle Chamber of Commerce in a study found that the tax would have cost the city almost 15,000 jobs and billions in economic output. The pro tax members of the council expected the head tax to raise $47 million in revenue.
In addition to the business complaints, angry constituents made their disapproval known. City council members were shouted down at a public forum. A pro tax rally at Amazon’s headquarters, construction workers also shouted down the main proponent of the tax, Kshama Sawant.
City council member Lorena Gonzalez attacked businesses for the unrest against the city council, “I am deeply troubled and disappointed by the political tactics utilized by a powerful faction of corporations that seem to prioritize corporations over people.”
“It was my sound belief that a compromise on this policy had been reached with business, and as an elected official representing all of Seattle, I am deeply disappointed that certain members of the business community did not engage in good faith with the City of Seattle.”
Kshama Sawant, an avowed socialist agitator, said the about-face by the council and the mayor was a “backroom betrayal.”
UPDATE: Seattle City Council Members Vote to Repeal the Measure
The head tax was repealed Tuesday by the Seattle city council by a vote of 7-2. Kshama Sawant, one of the two members voting against the repeal, stated the council was “bending to big business” and Jeff Bezos who she characterizes as an “enemy” of Seattle.