The city of Seattle has proved that spending money in an effort to improve the homeless crisis is not its core competency. We think a jobs tax is a bad idea and will hurt job creation.
HOMELESSNESS is one of the largest problems facing our community. Despite spending more than $190 million in King County last year on this issue, the Seattle City Council recently decided it must raise an additional $75 million from Seattle businesses through a new tax on jobs. The council proposes no ways to measure the success of this additional spending. The council has made it clear that the new tax will be passed next month regardless of the input they received.
If the City Council insists on passing this misguided tax on jobs in order to throw more money at a significant problem without a plan, we propose a compromise: Let businesses deduct donations directly to charities serving the homeless or building low-income housing from their proposed jobs-tax burden, rather than have the money be processed through government bureaucracy with the inevitable waste that entails.
Seattle businesses have shown repeatedly that we are committed to helping the homeless in our community, some of us for decades. Allowing businesses to donate their share of the jobs tax, through cash or in-kind donations, directly to charities combating homelessness successfully in our community would be the most efficient and effective way to spend it.
Businesses are already participating in a big way to help resolve the homeless crisis in our community. Large cash and in-kind donations are made to charities showing measurable success, specifically those helping individuals escape homelessness. Examples include permanent, rent-free facilities for FareStart and Mary’s Place, pro-bono services and grants.
Businesses large and small, old and new such as Amazon, Vulcan, Microsoft, Starbucks, Dick’s Drive-Ins, Boeing, the Seahawks, the Space Needle, HomeStreet Bank, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Nordstrom, Kigo Kitchen and Rachel’s Ginger Beer have set a wonderful example of corporate giving for the newcomers to the region such as Google and Facebook.
The report of the so-called “Progressive Revenue Task Force” argues that spending an additional $150 million the homeless crisis may not be enough. The Seattle City Council has demonstrated that even when they create a set of metrics to evaluate success they are unable to use it to guide spending. One only needs to look up the now infamous “Seattle streetcar” to see examples of the city government’s exceptional capacity for mismanagement and bureaucratic waste.
Simply spending more money is not going to solve the problem. The money needs to be spent well — on results, not bureaucracy.
Imagine if $75 million in cash or in-kind donations actually went directly to innovative charities building low-income housing, training homeless individuals in new skills, connecting them to housing, health care and jobs, and helping them navigate the opportunities available.
The city has proved that spending money in an effort to improve the homeless crisis in Seattle is not its core competency. We think a jobs tax is a bad idea and will hurt job creation in Seattle.
We would become the only jurisdiction in the country with a jobs tax and a B & O tax. However, if the Seattle City Council insists on moving forward, all new spending should be as efficient and effective as possible. Giving local business credit for their donations to measurably successful local charities will do exactly that.