A contrary Kshama Sawant cast the lone dissenting vote today for Mayor

A contrary Kshama Sawant cast the lone dissenting vote today for Mayor Ed Murray’s budget, calling the city’s $4.8 billion financial footprint for 2015-2016 “business as usual” and “fundamentally unjust.” And that’s for starters. As we know, she is a difficult councilwoman to please. Recall back in June, when she was the only member on the Council to vote “no” on the confirmation of Kathleen O’Toole as Seattle’s first female police chief. Sawant said at the time that O’Toole would not “challenge the status quo.”

Before pulling out the bottle of vinegar, Sawant–who was part of a 9-0 vote in favor of the budget last week in a meeting of the full Council Budget Committee and never uttered a discouraging word about it–did offer up a dollop of honey, thanking her council colleagues for supporting her amendments last week during a budget hearing to raise the wages of the lowest paid city worker to $15 per hour next year. Murray wanted the increase to be phased in over a three-year period. Sawant also praised councilmembers for providing funding for transition homeless encampments and money to sustain a year-round women’s homeless shelter.

“However, the positive amendments introduced by the City Council only marginally change a $4.8 billion business-as-usual budget,” the 42-year-old socialist said in a statement. “I cannot endorse a fundamentally unjust budget which fails to address Seattle’s housing crisis, underfunded social services, inadequate mass transit and gridlocked traffic, and growing inequality across class, racial, and gender lines.

Again, none of these concerns were raised last week during final budget deliberations and only came today, after the budget was formally approved 8-1.

Sawant goes on: “During this budget cycle it was clearly demonstrated why, year after year, the city and its elected officials fall so short of meeting the needs of poor and working people in Seattle. We saw the Mayor and a majority of the Council attend a luxury retreat with the Chamber of Commerce to hear big business’s budget priorities. We saw many of the budget decisions being driven by informal agendas where the powerful have special access, rather than by the needs of Seattle’s working people. We watched as Councilmembers were unwilling to consider lowering their own salaries ($120,000/year, the second highest in the nation) to pay for increased social services to address the multiple crises we face.

“On the bright side, we saw activists, social service providers, and labor and community leaders come together to begin building a movement for a People’s Budget, starting with listening to the needs of the people, not the corporations. This fight for a People’s Budget will continue beyond today’s vote.”

Budget chair Nick Licata, the Council’s most far-left member until Sawant splashed onto the scene, made certain to note that Sawant voted in favor of the budget last week. In his own statement, he described the new city budget as one that “invests in a healthy community by addressing homelessness, access to health care, support for enforcement of labor standards, and other cost-effective strategies benefiting families, communities, and the economy.”

Sawant could not be reached for comment.