Yesterday afternoon, after a flurry of speeches, the Seattle City Council passed the 2022 city budget. You can read the Solidarity Budget’s final press release on the budget here
While in some aspects disappointing–the SPD abrogation amendment and failure to fund a CAHOOTS-style alternative emergency response program come to mind, as well as a failure to fund two big asks
from the new Regional Homelessness Authority–there is much to celebrate in this budget. Probably first among these is the large investment in affordable housing ($194m), which between the already extant homeless crisis and the current rapid rise of rents, is a desperately needed investment.
Also of note, the SPD budget
shrank for the second year in a row, from about $362,988,810 down to $355,487,007. While this is only a 2% cut, it’s remarkable during a year in which most American municipal police budgets are expanding once again (and to be clear, most didn’t receive any cuts last year either). Part of the reason this cut was possible is undoubtedly because of the SPD’s high rate of attrition for the last two years, which means the Council can fully fund all the officer positions SPD can possibly hire in 2022 and still have extra money to invest elsewhere.
The Council also passed CM Herbold’s resolution addressing the Mayor’s emergency order giving hiring incentives to police officers and 911 dispatchers. This order limits the total amount expended to $500k and ends the order at the end of 2021. CM Herbold said more than once that the new Mayor might wish to pass his own emergency order pertaining to hiring bonuses, for which we’ll have to wait until January. It does sound like the hiring incentives are helping 911 dispatch staff up, at the very least, even if SPOG isn’t much of a fan of them.
Now that the budget has been passed, it gets sent to the Mayor, who has three options: she can sign it, she can allow it to pass into law without her signature, or she can veto it. We should know in the next few weeks what her choice will be. Should she veto it, the Council will need to decide whether to override her veto or make further changes to the budget.