"Our child-care workers are overworked, they're underpaid, they're leaving the workforce, and this is having a real detrimental effect on our child-care system as a whole, and it's really straining families to a breaking point," said Carolanne Sanders, a policy associate with the Economic Opportunity Institute.
Washington’s reliance on sales tax revenue hits the poor the hardest, proponents of the new tax measure argue. Some on the lower end of the income spectrum pay six times as much in state and local taxes in comparison to higher-wage earners. In a city of soaring rents and housing prices, the income tax will help bridge the widening gap with a “new formula for fairness,” Mayor Ed Murray said.
After months of grassroots organizing in Seattle, the push for a city income tax had hit the big time. The next day, John Burbank says, he met with Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Lisa Herbold to “sketch out how best and most expeditiously to proceed.” Which more or less led us to Monday, when the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to create a 2.25 percent tax on individual income over $250,000 and joint income of more than $500,000.
Paul Guppy of the Washington Policy Center, who opposes the law, and John Burbank of the Economic Opportunity Institute, who helped craft it, discuss Seattle's new income tax for high wage earners.
“There’s a social value to this whole program that goes above and beyond individual choice,” said Marilyn Watkins, policy director at Economic Opportunity Institute, which backed the bill. For example, babies who bond with their mothers may have a better start to life to set them up for success in society, she said. And workers with access to paid medical leave put less of a burden on the entire health care system, Watkins added.
“Only about 12 to 15% of the workforce get paid family leave benefit,” said Marilyn Watkins, who is with the Economic Opportunity Institute. That's why for almost two decades Watkins lobbied for mandatory paid family and medical leave.
"To move something this big and this important," Marilyn Watkins says, "it seemed like in this specific case—not in every case—it was worth having a limited kind of preemption language if that was the price."
“I think it will change lives. I know it will change lives,” said Marilyn Watkins with EOI.
“This is really important to me personally, I hope my two sons will have kids soon and I want them to have this policy available to them. I was able to care for my mother as she died a couple years ago, it was a privilege to be able to do that, but I don’t think it should be a privilege it should be a right that everyone has,” said Marilyn Watkins, who is the policy director for the Economic Opportunity Institute.
As analysts at Washington State’s Economic Opportunity Institute point out, “poor research leads to poor findings.” Among its deficiencies, the University of Washington study excludes workers at chain businesses (from Starbucks to Walgreens), leaving out 40 percent of the city’s workforce.
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