In a 7-1 vote Monday, the Seattle City Council approved a budget package that cuts the Seattle Police Department’s budget for the remaining 2020 year.
The plan will cut $3 million from the department’s $400 million budget. This still falls short of the 50% cut that Councilmembers and activist organizations King County Equity Now and Decriminalize Seattle have demanded.
The cuts will include laying off up to 100 police officers, capping command staff pay at $150,00, and ending the Navigation Team.
A controversy arose during the voting process in regards to Seattle Police Chief Best’s salary, which was at $294,000 prior to the vote. When Councilmember Lisa Herbold realized that the $150,000 cap would be reducing Best’s salary to below her predecessor, the budget was amdended to reduce Best’s salary to $275,000.
Chief Best – Seattle’s first female, African-American police chief – announced her resignation from the SPD shortly after the vote was made.
Journalist Brandi Kruse shared an infograph to help break down exactly how the amended budget would affect the SPD:
— Brandi Kruse (@BrandiKruse) August 11, 2020
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda celebrated the approved budget, writing on Twitter that “This Council has done something no Seattle Council has ever done – passed a mid-year budget revision, while working remotely, during overlapping health, homelessness and housing crises.”
This Council has done something no Seattle Council has ever done—passed a mid-year budget revision, while working remotely, during overlapping health, homelessness & housing crises. pic.twitter.com/Z1pKnNguXR
— Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (@CMTMosqueda) August 11, 2020
Councilmember Kshama Sawant – a self-proclaimed socialist – was the sole vote in opposition to the revised budget because it does not go far enough.
She explained in a news release following the vote that she voted in opposition “because the only balancing that is happening is on the backs of working people, especially in Black and Brown communities.”
“This budget fails to address the systemic racism of policing,” she continued, “trimming only $3 million from the bloated department’s remaining 2020 budget…”
“A budget that does not meet basic social needs and that continues to throw money at a racist, violent institution is a failed budget.”
The Seattle City Council still has their eyes on the 2021 budget to reach the goal of a 50% decrease to SPD funding.