Alright, Seattle, let's not screw this up. The Seattle City Council is ready to vote on the progressive payroll tax proposed by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.
The vote on whether or not to make the tax law will be held in today's city council meeting, which starts at 2 p.m. You can watch it here.
Mosqueda's tax, otherwise known as JumpStart Seattle, would raise an estimated $214 million annually, council analysts project. It passed out of the council's budget committee last week in a 7-2 vote. Debora Juarez and Alex Pedersen were the sole no votes.
JumpStart Seattle will put a tax on the compensation of high-earners at corporations that report over $7 million in annual payroll at different rates depending on the level of compensation and how much payroll the company reports. Only compensation over $150,000 annually will get taxed.
The rate of taxation was amended to range from 0.7 percent to 2.4 percent in last Wednesday's committee meeting. The upward increase in the tax rate was an amendment made by Mosqueda and Councilmember Tammy Morales. It will yield an extra $40 million for the tax.
The council went down a similar road a little over two years ago with the now-notorious employee hours tax. You probably know it as the head tax, a $275 tax on all employees for companies with gross revenues over $20 million. The 2018 council passed the head tax unanimously. Weeks and one Open Public Meetings Act violation later, the ruling was reversed.
After two years, the head tax was meant to turn into a high-earners tax resembling the JumpStart Seattle tax. It never got there. Now, maybe, we can skip ahead.
It seems likely that the JumpStart Seattle tax will pass given the hefty majority it passed out of committee with and the fact that four council members have signed on as co-sponsors. The only barrier is Mayor Jenny Durkan.
Pedersen and Juarez voted no on the bill during last week's committee meeting because they believe the tax should be put on the ballot for voters to decide. Durkan believes this as well. If the bill passes and Durkan vetos it, the council only needs six votes to overturn that veto.
"The sentiment of the public has drastically changed in the last couple of years," Council President Lorena Gonzalez said referring to the head tax. She was prefacing her no-vote on Pedersen's amendment to make the tax a ballot measure. The tax proposal in front of the council now, Gonzalez said, has business support and is "more scalable, more progressive, and more easily absorbed by smaller sized businesses."