A new salary-based tax that would span throughout King County was introduced Wednesday, Jan. 29 in state legislature. If passed, King County would introduce a taxation on worker compensation for those earning more than $150,000.

The intention of the tax reform is to redistribute funds from high-earning employees to services that reduce homelessness, establish affordable housing, and improve public safety.

The bill was sponsored by representatives Nicole Macri, Larry Springer, and 11 co-sponsors, and would include the creation of an advisory board made up of business and community representatives to ensure funding go toward lasting solutions to prevent homelessness. Revenue, anticipated to generate approximately $121 million annually, would become available beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan released a joint statement in support of the payroll tax:

“Our region is working every day to tackle homelessness and increase the production of affordable housing, but we know that we must do more. We thank legislators in Olympia for recognizing that regional need, and for bringing forward a progressive, new funding tool for King County — and we encourage them to act with urgency. We also appreciate this opportunity for productive discussions with legislators, community members, philanthropy, service providers, businesses, and labor organizations. We believe that, working together, we can implement proven strategies that allow everyone in our community to thrive.

Because of our regressive tax code, King County has limited revenue options. This crisis demands more tools for the region outside of property and sales taxes. Many of the region’s largest businesses, with deep roots in our community, want to participate in solutions, and want to do so with a comprehensive, countywide approach to homelessness, housing, behavioral health, and public safety. We agree, and this bill is a strong step in that direction.

We know more input and ideas will help make this bill better, but we cannot miss this moment to act.”

King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn released a statement opposing the proposal:

“This renewed effort to tax jobs is a political zombie stumbling back from the graveyard of bad ideas. This proposal is just Seattle’s failed head tax with a new coat of paint, the only difference is the original disincentivized job creation in Seattle and this version disincentivizes higher wages for the entire county.

Punishing local workers and employers for their talent and success is destructive for our entire region and fundamentally un-American. We’ve seen this type of money grab fail before, and it should fail again.

Elected officials need to stop putting the cart before the horse. The truth is that no amount of tax increases will ever be enough to help our homelessness crisis, if that money backs failed policy. Taxing salaries to generate an arbitrarily decided and huge sum of taxpayer money is irresponsible and, more importantly, just won’t work.”

For more information on the proposal, visit this website.