SEATTLE- Council Member Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) architect and champion of JumpStart Seattle, reacted to the first revenue numbers from Seattle’s progressive payroll tax. To date, the city has collected $231 million in JumpStart tax from taxpayers for their tax obligations in 2021, about $31 million more than the most recent revenue forecast released in November 2021. The budget passed revised from 2021 assumed that JumpStart Seattle would generate $200 million in revenue in 2021. Tax payments are expected to continue coming in through the end of February.
“JumpStart is a win for everyone in Seattle. I am thrilled that the incremental revenue generated by JumpStart is exceeding revenue projections,” said Member of the Mosqueda Council. “JumpStart has not only reinvigorated our economic recovery during a global pandemic, it has kick-started and fundamentally improved services that make communities and our local economy more stable and healthier in the long term.”
“But not for JumpStart, our city budget would have been in the red. Without JumpStart, Seattle would have faced an austerity budget during COVID. When we needed essential city services and would have been forced to cut support and cut jobs,” Mosqueda continued. “Through JumpStart, we were able to invest in our city’s most pressing issue: doubling the housing investment in the budget to a historic $194 million.”
JumpStart Seattle is a progressive payroll tax passed by the Seattle City Council in July 2020. The landmark legislation increases revenue via a payroll tax levied only on the largest companies, with more than $7 million in payroll , and only on dollar amounts for salaries over $150,000.
“The largest companies, many of which have been able to continue business as usual while working remotely, have thrived during COVID,” said Mosqueda. “This progressive tax on larger businesses is a minimum amount that must be paid so that working families and small businesses can survive, and so that we can invest in housing and economic resilience to make our local economy stronger and our healthier community. JumpStart is the kind of progressive revenue our city needs to be able to meet the growing population and emerging needs to create a fairer economy.
After its adoption, the Council unanimously adopted the detailed expenditure plan. In 2020 and 2021, funding responded to the emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting city services and providing relief to our most vulnerable neighbors with rent assistance, de-escalating shelters to protect our neighbors experiencing homelessness, supporting immigrants and refugees, expanding the grocery store, vouchers, and cash assistance to small businesses and child care centers. In 2022, the JumpStart long-term spending plan took effect, making historic investments in housing, as well as strengthening support for small businesses, the Green New Deal, and the Equitable Development Initiative.
JumpStart was requested by a broad coalition of over one hundred labor organizations, housing, homeless service providers, highway companies, environmental groups and community organizations.
“Like so many great cities, the pandemic has presented Seattle with a choice: stay here while many neighbors struggle or work together to tackle the scale of the crisis with investments in those most affected,” said declared Zach Silk, President, Civic Ventures. “We did the right thing and asked those who could afford it the most to do their part. I am grateful to our leaders who succeeded – we are better off as a city for that.
“Washington State is notorious for its regressive tax system,” said Katie Wilson, General Secretary, Transit Riders Union. “By raising funds from the businesses that profit most from the immense wealth produced in our region, JumpStart Seattle is moving our city in a more equitable direction. The pandemic has shown how important it is to have a net of strong security and robust public services – our members depend on public transit, and without emergency cash infusions for struggling transit systems, many of them would have been left behind. Seattle residents would have done much worse.Seattle must continue to lead the reform of our tax system and increase progressive revenues to make our city a place where everyone can prosper.
“The way the city of Seattle responded to this economic crisis was very different from the Great Recession, and it was because of CM Mosqueda’s heroic effort to pass the Jumpstart Tax,” K.atie Garrow, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, MLK Labor. “Jumpstart meant that instead of cuts and furloughs, we saw city workers keep their jobs, small business grants, and food and rental assistance for those who needed it most. Going forward, the tax will be used to train workers for the innovative jobs of tomorrow and to help resuscitate parts of our economy like the arts, restaurants and nightlife – the things that make Seattle special and that have suffered disproportionate harm during the pandemic. Thanks to CM Mosqueda’s prowess as a stakeholder and her relentless commitment to shared prosperity, she doesn’t just talk about doing good for people, she actually does it.
“JumpStart Seattle is making a huge contribution to meeting Seattle’s climate needs,” said Nicole Grant, Executive Director, 350 Seattle. “During COVID-19, we have seen that the very people who have been disproportionately affected by public health and economic crises are those who are disproportionately affected by climate change. Investing in the Green New Deal is critical, and there’s still a lot of work to do, but today we celebrate with advocates across the city who see real policy and funding changes needed to build an equitable future for young people from Seattle.