Solidarity Budget: A Call to Action for 2021 Budget and Beyond
Everyone deserves a healthy future- no matter what they look like, what’s in their wallet, or what neighborhood they live in.

That's why this fall, over 200 community groups came together to fight for a 2021 budget that values Black lives and moves us towards a just recovery from the overlapping crises of COVID-19, economic injustice and climate change. Our work to win a Seattle that works for all continues beyond the budget -- sign your organization on to the Solidarity Budget platform below to connect with us and join the fight!


FULL TEXT OF THE SOLIDARITY BUDGET LETTER BELOW -- PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO SIGN

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Seattle can become a city where everyone has the support, opportunity, and community to thrive, a city that addresses anti-Blackness, where housing is recognized as a human right and no one has to struggle to fill basic needs, where everyone has full access to high-quality healthcare, childcare, internet and education. We are creating a future that is ecologically sustainable and resilient, that eliminates carbon emissions and achieves a just transition with good jobs for workers and communities most impacted by the climate crisis. We believe in mobility for all, a transportation system where people can safely walk, roll, bike and ride affordable or free world-class public transit wherever they need to go. We are building a future where public goods — e.g. libraries and parks — are fully-funded, through a tax system that requires corporations and the wealthy to contribute equitably to the common good.

We envision an anti-racist Seattle that supports and invests in Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities and community-led health and safety systems, instead of perpetuating systems of policing, prosecution, and jail. We see a future where all youth are supported and nurtured, where one’s life expectancy is not determined by race and zip code, and where people in every neighborhood and every community can breathe clean air and enjoy affordable, nourishing food. We envision a city where all people can participate actively in democratic governance and community self-determination.

The 2021 budget is an opportunity to pause and plan for our city’s future together. We will move toward this vision of an equitable and inclusive Seattle — not further away from it. Decisions made this fall will set the trajectory with profound and lasting consequences. This budget process will test our city’s character and the moral courage of our elected leaders. Together, we measure success by answering the following three questions:

Do we center challenging systemic, anti-Black racism? Are we divesting from police systems, investing in Black communities, and making this shift through participatory budgeting, i.e., with the full participation of the communities most impacted by policing and racial oppression? Are we divesting from a failed culture of retribution, and into a culture of mutual care? Or are we backtracking on commitments, taking superficial actions that don’t meaningfully move resources, and making top-down decisions?

Do we rise to the challenge of the climate crisis? Are we taking rapid strides toward a carbon-free city by building ample affordable housing, transforming our transportation system, and investing in a just transition that protects workers and prioritizes communities on the front lines of the crisis? Or are we delaying vital transportation projects and reneging on Seattle’s commitment to a Green New Deal?

Do we rise to the challenge of the COVID-19 economic crisis? Are we raising new progressive revenue and expanding city services, public investments, and support for struggling households and small businesses to help pull our city out of recession? Or are we making the downturn even worse by cutting vital services and public sector jobs?

Together, we are changing course and creating a more equitable Seattle. We know our elected officials need the backing of constituents and communities to do the right thing. That’s why the undersigned organizations, rooted in Seattle communities and collectively representing tens of thousands of Seattle residents and workers, have joined together around common priorities for the 2021 budget.

We first ask that the council protect community-identified priorities that are funded in the mayor’s proposed budget. The current funding allocation of $5.4 million to the Equitable Development Initiative and $9.6 million for strategic land acquisition represent critical investments in BIPOC land stewardship and community-led development, and must be maintained. Funding for the Duwamish Longhouse crosswalk and sidewalk project, to ensure safety and access to cultural sites along the river, has long been a priority for the Duwamish Tribe and must be protected.

We call on the Seattle City Council to amend Mayor Durkan’s proposed budget as follows:

Divest from SPD: Reallocate at least 50% of funds from the Seattle Police Department and reinvest that money into Black communities and toward community-led health and safety systems. The $100 million promised to Black communities by the mayor is only a first step, and must be part of a larger strategy to divest from systems of policing and incarceration.

Participatory budgeting: New funds for Black communities towards community-led health and safety systems, including but not limited to the $100 million promised by the mayor for Black communities, must be allocated through a true participatory budgeting process, not a hand-picked task force.

Preserve vital public services: The $100 million promised by the mayor for Black communities should come from the city’s policing budgets (Seattle Police Department, Municipal Court, City Attorney’s Office), not from Jumpstart Seattle revenue and other priorities. This will free up funds to reverse proposed cuts to transportation projects, parks, emergency COVID-19 relief, and other vital city services. Funding for community-identified priorities like the Georgetown to South Park Trail and sidewalk repair in the Rainier Ave corridor should not be pitted against community health and safety.

Increase Community access to Dignified Emergency Shelter and Affordable Housing, and Decriminalize Homeless Services: Reallocate the funds that had been dedicated to the Navigation Team to fund trusted and skilled community organizations and nonprofits to work with people who are homeless without the presence of police and without coercion. Community-based outreach workers should be able to offer people they work with direct referrals into all city-funded resources (indoor shelter, tiny houses, hotels, other) that are available and fit their needs. The city should ensure all people have access to adequate basic sanitation (trash pick up/removal, cleaning) and hygiene (access to toilets, sinks, showers, laundry), and increase dignified, accessible housing and shelter, in the form of single-room COVID-appropriate accommodations. The available supply of both interim emergency forms of housing, such as hotels, motels, dormitories, or nursing homes, as well as permanent housing, must be increased.

Green New Deal: Fund staff position within Office of Sustainability and Environment to support the GND Oversight Board in work planning and funding allocation. Provide stipends for Board members to remove barriers to participation for impacted, low income, or young community members.

Curb the Criminalization of Poverty and Mental Health Struggles: Council should support the amendments to the Seattle Municipal Code making it a defense to prosecution (“duress defense”) that the person charged with a misdemeanor was meeting a basic need or experiencing mental health struggles at the time of their arrest, and making it possible for a judge to dismiss a case for the same reasons (“de minimis infraction”).

While the Jumpstart Seattle legislation passed earlier this year is an important first step toward supporting Seattle communities and bolstering our local economy, the City must do much more to reform our upside-down tax system, ensure a strong recovery, and invest in Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized communities. We call on you, our mayor and city councilmembers, to explore and implement new progressive revenue options, including a city income tax and a capital gains tax, as soon as possible. These must not be conceived as substitutes for the Jumpstart corporate payroll tax, but rather additions that will boost Seattle’s economic recovery and help to realize the vision of an equitable and inclusive city.

Finally, we ask Mayor Durkan to respect the council’s mandate in the budget process. When the legislative branch amends the executive’s budget proposal in line with input from a wide range of community organizations and constituents, the executive should sign the budget and follow through with it. Failing to do so undermines the public’s faith in the budget process and accountability in governance.

We call on you, our elected officials, to act now to lead and put Seattle on the path to addressing anti-Black racism. We ask that you prioritize facilitating an equitable recovery that tackles our multiple intersecting crises. We can’t fix new problems with old tools and solutions that failed in the past. It’s time to move towards community land stewardship. It’s time for housing for all. It’s time to dismantle anti-Black, racist policing. It’s time to transform all these systems towards ones that value Black lives and give us the best chance of surviving the current pandemic and climate crisis.

Together, we can make the structural changes necessary to transform this city into one that works for all of us.

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