Prosperity comes with a cost, and it’s often black, brown, or poor. In Seattle, we’re fighting back against the injustice.
None of us is immune from the ups and downs of health and wellness. That’s why the new family and medical leave law includes time off to recover from a serious illness or injury, or to care for a seriously ill family member. Because unexpected changes in our home or family situations is something we all face – and isn’t something that should cause financial distress.
Cliff experienced a real treat in having John Burbank, the executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, in the studio to discuss Trump Proof Seattle's recent victory in getting the state's FIRST Progressive Income Tax passed in 82 years.
The last time voters passed a graduated statewide income tax, it was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 1933 as unconstitutional. The state constitution requires that property be taxed at a uniform rate, which the court said applied to income in turning down the tax. The state also has tight restrictions on the authority of cities to impose such taxes. John Burbank, executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, a nonprofit that pushed the Seattle tax measure, said he welcomes the legal challenge: “We live in a much different society and polity now than 80 years ago.”
"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.
Just as Washington’s 1989 bill became the model for federal action, this new law is already being heralded as a template for legislation in other states and nationally.
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.