With its official launch, the Seattle Solidarity Budget coalition seeks to influence decision making over the 2022 City of Seattle Budget.
This weekend marks the launch of Seattle’s Solidarity Budget. Now in its second year, the coalition behind the effort is getting word out in advance of the release of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed 2022 City budget (which is expected on Monday) with the goal of increasing the Solidarity Budget’s influence over the upcoming budget negotiations that will occur between the mayor and city council. These negotiations will offer vigorous debate and competing visions for how the City should invest its resources to advance the Covid pandemic economic recovery, develop a more equitable system of public safety, address the homelessness crisis, create affordable housing, reduce carbon emissions, and more.
Not to be confused with the People’s Budget, an effort undertaken annually by Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3), the Solidarity Budget arose out of the Black Lives Matter activism of 2020, bringing together 200+ community groups who sought for the 2021 City Budget to prioritize budget actions that would divest funds from policing and increase investments in the community. As a member of the Move All Seattle Sustainably Coalition (MASS), The Urbanist endorsed the 2021 Solidarity Budget. Other endorsers included Decriminalize Seattle, Creative Justice, King County Equity Now, Seattle Transit Riders Union, Disability Rights Washington, Real Change, 350 Seattle, Puget Sound Sage, and Seattle Democratic Socialists of America.
This year the coalition behind the Solidarity Budget has had more time to craft a longer, more detailed budget in advance. This budget, which addresses many areas of City governance, continues to centralize divesting from policing and making “corresponding investments into community care, support, and safety for Black, Indigenous, migrant, unhoused, disabled, queer, trans and low-income communities.”
2022 Seattle Solidarity Budget Highlights
The 2022 Solidarity Budget proposes taking actions in several areas, each of which contains recommendations for funding and/or implementation of public policy. Priorities and their key recommendations include:
Defund Police, Courts, and Prosecutors. The coalition demands that the “divestment from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) continue, and that Seattle commit to shrink other parts of the policing pipeline by defunding the municipal court and the criminal division of the City Attorney’s office.” Key recommendations include:
- Defunding SPD by 50% by eliminating position authority, reducing funding for positions, and ending funding for new hires and ending police spending on new tech, new buildings, new weapons, or police public relations.
- Defunding the misdemeanor punishment arm of the municipal court and the criminal division of the City Attorney’s office by 50% by eliminating courtrooms and shrinking the number of cases prosecuted.
- Investing $5.5 million in addressing gender-based violence and $40 million in capacity building grants for community-based organizations to build non-police responses to crisis and harm.
Put Budgeting in People’s Hands. The coalition’s vision is for a City “where all people can participate actively in democratic governance and community self-determination demands that the City scale up its investment into Black-led and centered participatory budgeting.” Participatory budgeting is a democratic process by which community members decide how to spend a portion of a public budget, and since 2015 it has been a practice in Seattle. Primary recommendation:
- The 2022 budget should double the current investment in participatory budgeting to $60 million.