Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide) issued the following statement in response to the Employee Hours Tax (EHT) repeal proposal:
“Our tax system is upside down, placing the burden on low-income and middle-class households to pay a disproportionate share of taxes — as compared to corporations — to fund basic human needs. That is why I continue to believe that the Employee Hours Tax was an appropriate policy choice to fund additional housing and human services for people experiencing homelessness. I regret that it appears that powerful and well-resourced interests have swayed public opinion to believe that more is not needed.
“Our region has experienced the highest rates of economic growth in the country, and while this has been good for the wealthy, our region’s working-class families continue to be shut out of accessing shared prosperity.
“I am deeply troubled and disappointed by the political tactics utilized by a powerful faction of corporations that seem to prioritize corporations over people. The consequences of delaying action will be felt most profoundly by the thousands of people currently suffering while seeking stable housing and emergency shelter in our City.
“Over the past eight months, I worked with my colleagues, the Mayor, service providers, employers and housing advocates to identify solutions and strategies that would make an appreciable difference in sheltering and housing our growing homeless population. As the City of Seattle looks to a reset, I believe that our next steps should be immediate and guided by the following principles:
- We must act with urgency in addressing the homelessness crisis by treating it as a large-scale humanitarian crisis.
- We must continue our regional collaboration to implement system-wide improvements but acknowledge that the City of Seattle is home to over 70% of King County’s homeless residents. Any regional approach must prioritize the urgent needs of those currently experiencing homelessness in Seattle.
- We must generate significant additional revenue that will not burden residential property owners, renters or consumers, who already pay their fair share of taxes to fund human and housing services. This will require a deep and real commitment to finding new resources from all government levels, for-profit corporations and philanthropy.
“It was my sound belief that a compromise on this policy had been reached with business, and as an elected official representing all of Seattle, I am deeply disappointed that certain members of the business community did not engage in good faith with the City of Seattle. Instead, they chose to double-down on polarizing the issue of homelessness and fostering divide amongst Seattle residents.
“For civic and business leaders who are truly committed to concrete, progressive solutions to get our neighbors housed now, I welcome good-faith and urgent collaboration to identify revenue sources to accomplish our common goals.”