Business News for Bellevue and the Eastside of Lake Washington

AWB to Governor Inslee: Keep Focus on Economy

Now is the time to build on the success of Washington’s slowly improving economy by making smart investments that will result in expanded opportunity for everyone, according to Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business.

Imposing a costly new cap-and-trade tax on some of the state’s best employers, raising the state’s highest-in-the-nation minimum wage and eliminating tax incentives on select industries threatens to derail the recovery we have waited on for so long, Johnson said Tuesday in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s “State of the State” address.

“Employers care deeply about Washington’s environment and they are an important reason that our state is among the greenest in the country,” Johnson said. “The best way to make progress is to build upon our past success, not to impose a punitive new tax on employers, branding them with the label ‘polluter’ and jeopardizing jobs at a time when the unemployment rate is finally moving in the right direction.

In his speech, the governor said his plan would make ‘polluters’ pay for transportation investments rather than raising the gas tax on everyone. In fact, the governor’s cap-and-trade proposal will amount to a new $1 billion energy tax that will hit every family that buys gasoline, heats their homes and purchases products.

It’s true that Washington faces some big challenges, including how to fund education and transportation improvements, and we are pleased to hear the governor highlight those issues in his address.

Unfortunately, the governor’s previously-outlined plan to link funding for schools and roads to an untested, unsustainable cap-and-trade tax system does not address the state’s long-term needs, harms our ability to compete in a global economy, and diverts attention from our top priorities.

Employers understand that investing in education is not just a requirement of the Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling, but it is also one of the keys to Washington’s economic health.

Likewise, Washington’s employers need a transportation network that gets products to market in this trade-dependent state, and gets people to their jobs in a safe, efficient manner. So we share the governor’s desire for progress on this issue.

But as the governor and lawmakers embark on a new legislative session, it’s important they remember that despite some positive economic signs, the recovery is still fragile and it has not reached all parts of the state. Now is not the time to abandon fiscal responsibility and adopt a tax-first approach to governing.

On behalf of more than 8,300 private employers, we look forward to working alongside the governor and all lawmakers to find bipartisan solutions to our collective challenges, building upon our past successes, and positioning our state for economic growth.”

About the Association of Washington Business
Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes more than 8,300 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit www.awb.org.

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