- City of Seattle
- Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant says she "fought for each and every improvement" to Mayor Ed Murray's budget proposal, but that the final product was still "fundamentally unjust."
The other day we told you about all the good things that happen when the left takes over the city budget. Those things were not good enough for Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, who will be the sole council vote against the budget today.
In a statement, Sawant says she "fought for each and every improvement" to Mayor Ed Murray's original budget proposal, but that the final product is still "fundamentally unjust." (Even though it includes funding for homeless encampments and a sped-up path to $15 an hour for city workers—measures Sawant strongly supported.)
Council Budget Chair Nick Licata, the body's longest-serving lefty, pointed out in his own statement that Sawant was part of a 9-0 vote on November 14 that moved the budget process forward by passing amendments she liked. In his own statement, Licata described the new city budget as one that "invests in a healthy community by addressing homelessness, access to health care, support for enforcement of labor standards, and other cost-effective strategies benefitting families, communities, and the economy."
This is not the first time Sawant has made her perfect the enemy of the good in voting calculations. Back in June, she was the sole council member to vote against confirmation of Kathleen O'Toole as Seattle's first female police chief. She cast that no vote, she said at the time, because she didn't believe O'Toole would "challenge the status quo."
Essentially, concerns about the status quo are behind today's lone no-vote from Sawant, too.
"The positive amendments introduced by the City Council only marginally change a $4.8 billion business-as-usual budget," Sawant said in her statement. "I cannot endorse a fundamentally unjust budget which fails to address Seattle’s housing crisis, underfunded social services, inadequate mass transit and gridlocked traffic, and growing inequality across class, racial and gender lines."
The blame for this "fundamentally unjust" budget, Sawant said, rests on the mayor and her fellow council members. She argued that many of them attended "a luxury retreat with the Chamber of Commerce to hear big business’s budget priorities," and lamented their failure to agree with her proposal that council members lower their $120,00-a-year salaries ("the second-highest in the nation," Sawant noted) in order to "pay for increased social services to address the multiple crises we face."
As a better model, Sawant held up her "People's Budget" and said "this fight for a People’s Budget will continue beyond today’s vote.”
This post has been updated since its original publication.