Voices of the People’s Budget

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On the evening of October 30th, labor leaders, community organizers, social service providers, and engaged citizens came together for a People’s Budget Town Hall. Here they shared their concerns about the Mayor’s business as usual budget and began a conversation about what is necessary to make Seattle affordable for all. Below are some excerpts from some of the speakers, follow the links for video and transcripts.


Kshama Sawant’s Opening Remarks

“We don’t have a shortage of great ideas. What we have a shortage of, on the City Council, is the political will to carry them out. And we need to build that political will, not only by putting pressure on the existing city government by having a movement-building approach, including meetings like this one, but also going forward, ensuring that our representatives are put forward to hold government positions, so we don’t have to lobby them, but that they will be out there fighting with us and for us. And to make this kind of fundamental change, we need to access the huge wealth and resources of our city and our country, and we need to continue building these powerful campaigns to fully fund the needs of the 99%.”

Sharon Lee, Low Income Housing Institute

“The one night count most recently showed that there were 3,100 homeless people living unsheltered on the streets, in cars, under bridges, and the number is just increasing. So far close to 40 people have died, men and women have died, from exposure or violence living on the streets.”

John Fox, Seattle Displacement Coalition

“Yes, there is socialism in Seattle, but I don’t mean the socialism of Councilmember Sawant aimed at lifting the incomes of everybody up and ensuring the fair distribution of resources. It’s socialism for the rich, where we pay the cost and they benefit. That’s what they call in this town the public/private partnership.”

Robbie Stern, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action

“We also need significant funding in the budget for struggling community institutions like the senior centers. There are a number of them that are just on the edge of going out of business. And these centers are places where seniors come to be fed, where seniors come for activity. We need to make sure that there is really an increase in the among of funding, because, as we know, the Baby Boomer generation is coming into seniorhood, as many of you know, and these institutions are going to be more and more important.”

Jess Spear, Organizing Director of 15 Now

“Where is the money to enforce the new minimum wage law? We did not build a strong enough movement to prevent all of those corporate loopholes, and now we have four different confusing pathways for workers. Where is the money to ensure workers understand what pathway they’re on? Where is the money to enforce that the employers are actually going to pay the workers their due?”

Katie Wilson, Transit Riders Union

“Have you ever tried to get across town on the bus and had to take two or three hours because of late and overcrowded buses and unreliable connections? We should be talking about doubling our transit service. If you’ve ever been to a city with a world class transit system you know the difference. You want to go somewhere? You don’t have to meticulously plan every connection. You can just go out to the stop, knowing that a bus or a train is going to come within just a few minutes and you’ll be on your way.”

Cariño Barragan Taloncon, Casa Latina

“We believe that the budget should include funding for adequate education of city staff and the community about the city policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” in regards to immigration status. We hear reports of rogue police officers or other uninformed police officers who take it upon themselves to call immigration officials when they come upon an immigrant. This is creating a fear within the community.”

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