(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
Mayor Bruce Harrell’s first budget proposal would use JumpStart payroll tax revenues to shore up spending for non-JumpStart programs, move the City’s parking enforcement officers back into the Seattle Police Department (SPD) from the Department of Transportation (SDOT), and provide pay increases to homeless service providers well below the rate of inflation.
Tens of thousands of people protested for the vision of a world without police murders, one where Black death would no longer be funded by public dollars. The rallying cries to divest money from policing were clear. Community members and hundreds of community organizations pushed city leaders to reinvest those funds back into our communities most harmed by police brutality. Those closest to the issues are closest to the solutions. With that in mind, Black and Brown community members presented a vision where we the people decide how that money is spent — not elected officials. This isn’t a new process. Seattle has been doing Participatory Budgeting (PB) — a process that allows people in a city, rather than elected officials, to decide how money is spent — for nearly four years now. But now is the time for Black and Brown community members to design the process and lead the investment priorities for the budget. Over 100 community members became researchers to help design that roadmap based on feedback from thousands of community members.