Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Citywide, Position 8) issued the following statement regarding the Employee Hours Tax Repeal Proposal:
“My office has heard a lot of concern regarding the Employee Hours Tax (EHT). I have concerns as well, but I cannot back a repeal without a replacement strategy to house and shelter our neighbors experiencing homelessness.
“While a vote may go forward to repeal the tax, our homelessness and housing affordability crisis gets worse. We have people who are dying on the doorsteps of prosperity, and our neighbors and friends worry about being able to afford to live in the City while we have a booming economy.
“The debate around the EHT has been a flashpoint in Seattle’s housing crisis. I understand people’s frustrations. This City Council is in the midst of correcting the course set by the previous administration. Our City has taken steps to reform our contracting process and audit our efforts, providing greater transparency to the public on how dollars are spent – I’m also committed to making ourselves more accountable to you. I look forward to considering an array of options to move people from the streets to shelter, be it emergency tents, more tiny houses or temporary enhanced shelters, because right now we don’t have shelter space for the 4,500 people sleeping on the streets in Seattle on any given night. But all of these efforts are a band aid. We cannot warehouse people in shelters forever. We know if we want to permanently move people off the streets, we must provide housing and services. EHT represents a down payment to a better solution.
“There’s a lot of conversation about looking at other solutions. The reality is, we’ve looked at a lot of them. I participated in the countywide ‘regional approach’ through One Table – a group that’s been indefinitely paused. We worked on a payroll tax option and moved away from it at the request of the a few large businesses. We also paused revenue efforts last year to create a task force comprised of members of the business community and housing advocates – an effort that was boycotted by several larger corporations. I cannot support repeal of the EHT without a similarly sized progressive revenue option. I am always ready and willing to work collaboratively on solutions that will make a meaningful impact on our homelessness and housing affordability crisis. Until such a solution presents itself, I will continue to support the need for significant revenue to shelter and house our homeless, and to ensure all our community members have safe places to live, and feel safe in their communities. It’s easy to say no, it’s harder to say yes to a solution.
“I do want to acknowledge the many business owners, including small and large businesses, that as civic leaders attempted to balance their business interests with those of the city’s. A critical next step for me will be to hear from those business leaders about how we can address our upside-down tax code while they continue to thrive in our city—we must ensure a future with both of those interests and I want to hear from the business leaders who share that vision. While I won’t join my colleagues and the mayor today, I will work with them, along with business and labor, to find a funding replacement. We cannot wait months or until next year for another proposal or process while people are sleeping in our parks and on our streets.”