“We’ve got to protect the working people’s jobs in Washington state and in Seattle,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in an interview. “And as mayor that’s one of my number one obligations and goals and I’m going to work to get it done.”
The morning after unveiling a new, scaled-down head-tax proposal, Mayor Jenny Durkan visited the Washington Women in Trades job fair at Seattle Center on Friday, the first Seattle mayor to do so in the event’s 39 years.
After opening the event, she shook hands, talked and posed for pictures with union electrical workers, bricklayers, police, firefighters and others.
Asked as she was leaving the event if she had business support for her version of the proposed tax on large employers, Durkan told The Seattle Times:
“I think we’ve got broad support but I think the most important thing is what we saw in here. We’ve got to protect the working people’s jobs in Washington state and in Seattle. And as mayor that’s one of my number one obligations and goals and I’m going to work to get it done.”
Durkan’s comments came during a crucial council finance-committee meeting on the issue at City Hall, with debate over how much businesses should be taxed as the city looks for ways to address its homelessness crisis.
Amid stiff head-tax opposition from many in the business community, including Amazon — which announced last week it was pausing construction planning for a new tower — Durkan announced Thursday night that she had support from four council members for a more modest proposal.
Rather than impose a head tax of about $500 per employee per year on for-profit companies that gross at least $20 million annually in Seattle, Durkan’s calls for charging $250 per head, the mayor’s office said.
The original plan’s sponsors have estimated the tax would raise $75 million per year. Durkan’s would raise an average of about $40 million per year, her office said.
Also, the original plan called for replacing the head tax with a 0.7 percent payroll tax in 2021. Durkan’s head tax would remain unchanged for five years and then would need to be renewed.
Durkan has backing from Council President Bruce Harrell and City Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Rob Johnson and Debora Juarez, the mayor’s office said.
Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, M. Lorena González, Mike O’Brien and Teresa Mosqueda are the sponsors of the pricier proposal, with Kshama Sawant also a supporter.
A new law needs five votes to pass and six to override a mayoral veto.
In her brief Friday morning interview with The Seattle Times, Durkan was asked if she would veto the more expensive proposal, should it pass the full council Monday. She said, “I’m hopeful to get a great thing that’s going to keep people working and get us more money to help people on the streets.”