A business coalition launched a campaign Friday to reject Seattle’s new “head tax,” a polarizing piece of legislation signed into law this week. The group has until mid-June to collect about 17,000 signatures in support of a referendum that would give voters the chance to overturn the tax.
Saul Spady, president of the Seattle advertising firm Cre8ive Empowerment, is championing the “No Tax on Jobs” campaign. He is the grandson of Dick Spady, the founder of Dick’s Drive-In. The iconic Seattle burger company has been critical of the head tax, which will cost businesses with more than $20 million in annual revenue $275 per employee, per year.
Spady confirmed the “No Tax on Jobs” coalition will launch its campaign Friday in an interview with GeekWire. The coalition is made up “of small business owners like myself, old Seattle businesses, like Dick’s Drive-In, and our hope is that some of the larger businesses, when they see the up-flow of support we have, will join in in the coming days because we don’t have a lot of time,” Spady said.
Spady would not identify additional businesses in the campaign or confirm whether any tech companies were signing on. The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce did not immediately respond to GeekWire’s inquiries about the referendum campaign.
But Amazon, king of the Seattle tech industry, vehemently opposes the tax. Amazon exec Drew Herdener said he is “very apprehensive” about the company’s future in its hometown because of its “hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses,” in a statement after the tax passed Monday.
The “No Tax on Jobs Campaign” is seeking signatures for a referendum as of now. Spady said that will likely evolve into a ballot initiative with alternate solutions to the City Council’s plan to curb homelessness with the head tax revenue. The majority of funds from the tax will go toward building affordable housing. Spady believes that the city should prioritize emergency shelter services instead of “a tax that’s literally built to stop growth.”