The Center Square
$6.5M of Seattle’s payroll tax could go to Green New Deal projects

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has proposed using approximately $6.5 million from the JumpStart payroll tax to fight climate change as part of the city's Green New Deal.

The larger plan was formulated by the Seattle City Council in 2019. Its goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support community resilience to climate change and increase net zero affordable housing throughout the city.

“As a councilmember, I voted to establish a Green New Deal — with a goal of ensuring Seattle continues to be at the forefront of innovative policies to reduce emissions and center climate resilience and justice,” Harrell said in a statement.

Funds going towards Green New Deal efforts come from the city’s JumpStart payroll tax revenue. The payroll tax dedicates 9% of its proceeds to Seattle’s Green New Deal fund.

The JumpStart payroll tax is expected to bring in more than $277 million into the city this year, according to the city’s revenue forecast posted in April. The JumpStart tax requires businesses with at least $7 million in annual payroll to pay between 0.7% and 2.4% on salaries and wages paid to Seattle employees who make at least $150,000 per year.

Harrell is proposing $2.4 million out of the total $6.5 million go toward identifying and developing “resilience hubs.” These hubs would help ensure communities are supported in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from climate change related emergencies such as extreme heat events and wildfire smoke.

Seattle’s efforts to get all city-owned buildings off fossil fuels by 2035 would see $2.3 million dedicated to the cause under Harrell's proposal.

Seattle owns 650 buildings, including 27 public libraries which Harrell says are becoming more important in community care during climate emergencies.

The $2.3 million would also go towards providing heating, cooling and clean air at two library branches in the city to support communities during times of climate crisis.

Harrell is seeking to spend $2 million of Green New Deal funds to increase the number of city-funded affordable housing projects. Specifically funding multi-family affordable housing electrification to avoid installing new fossil fuel systems.

The remaining funds in the mayor’s proposal include $300,000 to help the city collect “critical data needed to see the full picture of climate impact on transportation, community health and more,” according to Mayor Harrell’s Office. $100,00 would be set aside to inform the community of climate components incorporated into Harrell’s One Seattle Comprehensive Plan.

“Seeing record heat waves in Seattle, floods in Pakistan . . . worldwide droughts, wildfires and food scarcity, there is nothing more pressing for our city’s future than investing in equitable climate resilience,” Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said.

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