Last Friday, we scored a handful of budget victories that will improve the lives of low wage workers, homeless people, and women in Seattle. Faced with a status quo budget that caters to big business and the super-wealthy, ordinary people had to fight for every dollar. Our victories would not have been possible without the hard work we did together. Thank you all so much!
On Monday, November 24th at 2:00PM, the Seattle City Council will vote on the final 2015-2016 budget. Please join me for the vote.
We won amendments to the Mayor’s budget proposal including:
- A $15 minimum wage for Seattle City employees starting in April of 2015.
- $100,000 to provide basic services for transitional homeless encampments.
- $120,000 to support year-round, low-barrier women’s homeless shelters, and other funds for shelters.
- More resources to enforce labor law.
We also helped lay the foundation for fundamental change in the future. We gave the City a mandate to address income inequality, the affordable housing crisis, and rampant wage theft by investigating the following:
- Holding a large public bond sale to fund a citywide program to build thousands of publicly owned affordable housing units.
- Increasing the penalties for employers found guilty of stealing from their employees.
- Drafting legislation to institute progressive tax measures in 2016.
These victories were by no means automatic. Each proposal faced opposition on the Council that could not have been overcome without numerous visits, phone calls, and emails to Councilmembers in the days leading up to the vote, and without persuasive public comments during the budget meeting itself.
I appreciate the Councilmembers who put forward progressive budget amendments and who supported and advocated for my proposals. Check out my blog for a fuller description of the budget changes and for links to media coverage.
However, we should also recognize the limited nature of the budget changes in the context of the spiraling crisis of affordable housing and access to basic human services in our city. The Council only amended a few million dollars in a $4.8 billion budget. And Councilmembers did not support my proposal to fully fund our city’s Human Services Department with an additional $33 million next year.
Mayor Murray’s overall budget is basically a continuation of previous budgets and offers no real solution to the problems that most ordinary people in Seattle face. No attempt is made to seriously address the affordable housing crisis, the shocking growth of homelessness in our city, the chronic underfunding of social services and public transportation, the specific needs of LGBTQ youth and people of color, and Seattle’s growing income, gender, and racial inequality.
In reality, these problems can only be solved by radically changing the budget process as a whole. That’s why I have initiated the People’s Budget movement – to lay the foundation for a budget process that begins by asking ordinary people what they need to live a decent life and then compels City officials to fight to ensure all of those needs are met.
Please join me on Monday at 2:00PM in Council Chambers. Let’s celebrate our hard fought victories. But let’s also make it very clear to the Mayor and the Council that a business as usual budget is completely unacceptable. We demand a People’s Budget dedicated to satisfying ordinary working people’s real, human needs.
What: Seattle City Council Final Vote on the 2015 – 2016 Budget
Where: Council Chambers, Floor 2, Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue
When: Monday, November 24th at 2:00 PM