The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to impose a new tax on large employers to raise nearly $50 million in funding for affordable housing construction and homeless services.
Noting that the so-called "head tax" is quite modest relative to Amazon's annual revenue and the pay of its CEO Jeff Bezos-the world's richest man-socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant argued on Monday that "even a smaller tax is a huge victory", given the "Goliath-like clout of Amazon". The initial proposal called for the tax to be $500 per employee, but the city's mayor had threatened to veto it, the Seattle Times reported. A count past year found King County's homeless population to have reached more than 11,000, and a pro bono report issued last week by McKinsey & Co. for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce found that it would cost about $400 million to address the shortage of affordable housing in the area.
"We are disappointed by today's City Council decision to introduce a tax on jobs", his statement reads.
"We remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council's hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here", Herdener said. Free for 14 days - no credit card required!
Speaking ahead of the City Council's final vote on Monday, Sawant argued that "as long as big business controls the wealth in society, and controls what is built and where.they will create a race to the bottom around the world". One state Republican leader said he would seek legislation next year to make clear that a city tax on employees, wages, or hours is illegal.
WATCH: Is head tax the right solution? Representatives of businesses warned that the tax would drive employers out of town, while others speakers questioned whether Seattle's city government could be trusted to spend the additional tax revenue wisely.
Shannon Brown, who has been living a tiny home at a south Seattle homeless encampment, said there's simply not enough housing for the city's poorest people.
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He noted that city revenues have grown dramatically and that the city "does not have a revenue problem - it has a spending efficiency problem".
"P$3 ending the outcome of the head-tax vote by City Council, Amazon has paused all construction planning", a company spokesperson told The Seattle Times earlier this month.
"I think we have to convince the public that we're using [funds] wisely and strategically, and I think we've failed in that regard as a city", said Council President Bruce Harrell during Monday's meeting.
"Taxing jobs will not fix our region's housing and homelessness problems", said Strickland, who went on to praise Durkan for her role in the compromise.
"They're driving this economic engine", he said. Separately, the company has committed more than $40 million to two groups: the Mary's Place shelters for homeless families, including space in company buildings; and the FareStart non-profit organization for homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and kids, including space and equipment for FareStart restaurants.