Although it’s been a while since we wrote about the revised and revised King County payroll tax legislation proposed to fund a regional approach to mitigating homelessness, negotiations continue. Two members of the Seattle City Council, however, aren’t waiting. Daniel Beekman reports in The Seattle Times,
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant sought to steam ahead Wednesday with her proposal to have the city raise $300 million a year by taxing big businesses such as Amazon, releasing draft legislation and adding Councilmember Tammy Morales as a co-sponsor.
Sawant and Morales held a news conference at City Hall on a proposal to raise money for affordable housing, hoping to put pressure on their council colleagues and on state lawmakers at the Capitol, where a bill that would let King County tax large corporations may have stalled.
It’s not really surprising. Sawant had signaled her intent long ago. Her tax proposal may also be considered revived and revised.
The Seattle legislation shared Wednesday by Sawant and Morales would impose a tax on corporations with at least $7 million in annual payroll. The payroll tax would cover about 825 companies, or about 3% of all Seattle businesses, the council members said.
When Sawant initially outlined her proposal last month, she said the tax rate would be 1.7%. But Wednesday’s legislation calls for a rate of only 0.7%. New wage and employment data obtained by council staff has shown that the lower rate could yield $300 million a year, she said, arguing the change should make the tax more palatable to business leaders.
Or possibly not.
In Olympia, time is running out on the payroll tax legislation. Beekman reports,
No action was taken on the bill during a House Finance Committee meeting Monday, and a co-sponsor expressed concern that the concept might not succeed because some large employers are withholding support. The Legislature’s session ends next week.
Preemption language that would prevent Seattle from adopting its own tax on top of the county tax remains one of the sticking points.
“I’ve learned in my time here that anything can happen quickly. But the window of opportunity is starting to close,” Rep. Nicole Macri, D-Seattle, said in an interview Monday. “To get the votes for a bill like this, we need a really loud and enthusiastic coalition, and we don’t have that now.”