Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien joins The Overcast to discuss his proposal for a tax on businesses to help deal with homelessness. He also talks about his effort to study whether it makes sense to charge tolls for people to drive downtown.
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Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien says Seattle’s biggest businesses should pitch in more to deal with the city’s homelessness emergency. He’s proposing a tax of about $100 a year per full-time employee on firms with gross revenues of more than $5 million a year.
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O’Brien also is asking for a $200,000 study to help Seattle decide whether to impose tolls on downtown Seattle streets to help ease congestion when the state’s Highway 99 deep-bore tunnel — which will also be tolled — opens in 2019.
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On Episode 58 of The Overcast, the Seattle Times weekly politics podcast, O’Brien joins hosts Jim Brunner and Dan Beekman to make his case for the proposals – both part of the City Council’s ongoing budget talks.
This episode was recorded at the Seattle studios of public radio 88.5 FM KNKX as part of an ongoing partnership. Tune in to the station Friday to catch an excerpt of the conversation.
Among the questions fielded by O’Brien:
• How does he answer critics of the tax proposal, who say it could harm companies with low profit margins?
• What about objections from the head of locally owned Bartell Drugs, who blasted the tax in an email to council members, declaring “enough is enough” when it comes to the city’s accumulated taxes and regulations?
•What are the measurements for success if the city boosts spending on homeless shelters?
•With both 2017 mayoral candidates expressing concerns, what are the political prospects for this tax?
•On the tolling issue, what’s the timeline and how could it affect lower-income workers?
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