Ingraham High School Shooting // This Week’s Budget Update


Ingraham High School Shooting

While in attendance at the City Council’s second Budget Public Hearing on Tuesday morning, I was heartbroken to receive news of a devastating act of gun violence at Ingraham High School. Gun violence is a national epidemic.  We must advocate for local gun violence prevention programs and support gun control legislation being passed at every level.

My heart goes out to the victim, their loved ones, and the students, staff, families, and neighbors of Ingraham High School. No student should have to go to school worrying about the threat of gun violence. No parent should have to experience the heart-wrenching feeling of wondering if their child is safe at school. This is unacceptable.

Devastatingly, this act of violence shows that Seattle is not immune to America’s school shooting epidemic – nowhere is. With two months still left in this year, there have been more shootings at schools in the U.S. than any other year on record. The K-12 Shooting Database has logged 271 shootings this year, compared to the record high of 250 set just last year. We also know that firearms are the leading cause of death for American children, according to recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Seattle has a gun problem. I sincerely thank all of the first responders and school faculty. I want to specifically thank the Seattle Police Department for their work seizing 1,237 illegal firearms last year, an unheard-of number, and we’re on track to meet or exceed that with over 1,000 seizures already this year. Whether it’s through gun violence prevention we do at the city and county level or gun control legislation passed at the state and national level, we must do more. Our kids’ lives depend on it.

I have proposed to add to the Council’s 2022-2023 Budget $600,000 to the Human Services Department to increase the City’s current investment from $1.5 million to $2.1 million in a gun-violence reduction program that is housed in Public Health – Seattle & King County Public Health. That program, the Regional Peacekeepers Collective (RPKC), supports a multi-initiative, multi-organization network that provides intervention, prevention, and restoration services including critical incident and hospital-based response, intensive engagement, and wrap-around life-affirming care to those most impacted by gun violence and unjust systems.

Students at Ingram High School are gathering at City Hall on Monday.  Among other priorities, they are calling for more investment in mental health counselors in the schools.  Mayor Harrell’s proposed budget continues funding that I championed for in 2022, $500,000 allocated to expand mental health services in schools.

This Week’s Budget Update

This week, the Budget Committee met to hold a second public hearing on November 8th. The final public hearing is scheduled for November 15th, at 5 p.m.

The Budget Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday the 14th at 11 a.m., to hear the Chair’s Balancing Package. We’ve been eagerly awaiting this next step of the budget deliberations.  Councilmembers will then have until noon on Wednesday to propose amendments to the Balancing Package. Votes in the Budget Committee are scheduled for November 21st, with Full Council action on the 29th.

Photo: Alex Garland

On Tuesday morning, I spoke at the Essential Workers, Members, Friends, and Allies: RALLY for Human Services & Dignity!  gathering. I spoke in support of the importance of a budget amendment I am sponsoring in support of covering inflationary increases for human service providers in 2024, as required by a law passed in 2019. My comments are below:

“The work of social service provision comes down to people helping people, it is hard, trauma-inducing work, and staff has been at the frontlines of public health risks for the past two years. The ability of the safety net to function depends on staff. Without a workforce, the whole system falls apart.

By law, the City budget must include an annual increase for human services providers, pegged to the rate of inflation, so that they don’t fall behind financially.  This year, that figure is 7.6% – but the Mayor’s proposed budget only includes 4%.

Council’s intent is to advance nonprofit workers wages, not force them further behind. 

The proposed budget represents a nearly $20 million blow to the nonprofit organizations and their staff, who provide absolutely mission-critical services to Seattle residents and are often unable to offer living wages to the frontline staff who do this essential work.

I can point to numerous instances in the last two years when Council has provided funding to accomplish an essential and desperately-needed goal, but the funds went unspent because of nonprofits’ difficulty finding staff willing to work for such low wages.

  • The King County Regional Homelessness Authority reported that, “The five largest service providers alone have more than 300 vacant positions.”
  • Recently, the Seattle Times reported on affordable housing and shelter buildings remaining empty, because of severe staffing shortages.
  • During a public hearing, nonprofit leaders testified that they have already passed budgets that provide modest but essential wage increases for staff, on the strength of their trust in the City to follow the law and fully fund the required increase..

The majority of social service providers are women, and often women of color. Anything less than a full inflationary increase will have an unacceptable and disproportionate impact on those workers.

This failure to provide an increase that acknowledges the crushing reality of inflation on nonprofit providers – will come back to haunt us, if it stands.  I am pursing every opportunity to address this gap and ensure our nonprofit partners receive the funding they are entitled to by law.”

© 1995-2018 City of Seattle