Association of Washington Business logoThe bipartisan leadership team of Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, and Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, received the  Jim Matson Award today from the Association of Washington Business for their continued support of the business community. The honor was one of eight service awards presented during the 24th annual AWB Policy Summit  at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum.

Voted on by AWB members who serve on its Governmental Affairs Council, the Matson Award recognizes current or former state legislators who consistently support issues important to Washington’s employers and the state’s competitiveness.

Tom, the Senate Majority leader, and Schoesler, the leader of the Senate Republicans, were selected for their work on the budget this past session. Their efforts with the Majority Caucus held the line against tax and fee increases that would have hurt Washington’s economic recovery. It also yielded a two-year state budget that added $1 billion to funding for K-12 education.

The pair accepted the award in person from AWB President Don Brunell during a lunchtime awards ceremony.

“I think we changed the nature of the conversation in Olympia,” Tom said in accepting the award. “We all go down to Olympia and say education is our No. 1 priority, but if you look at the last 30 years, non-education spending has grown at twice the rate of education spending. … We put our budget where our mouth is, and it’s about time we continue that in Olympia.”

Schoesler said the Majority Coalition Caucus aimed to focus on jobs, education and the budget while taking seriously the idea that temporary taxes should not become permanent.

“It was a long session, but I think it was worth it for the state of Washington,” said Schoesler in accepting the award.

The Matson Award is the highest honor a legislator can receive from AWB, Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association. The award was established to honor the late Sen. Jim Matson, R-Selah, who was a veteran state legislator and AWB member. Matson also served on the AWB’s Executive Committee during the 1970s and 1980s.

Also presented Wednesday: the Ron Gjerde Award, an award presented to a lobbyist for outstanding dedication to serving the business community. This year, the honor was presented to Brad Tower of Tower Ltd. in Olympia. Tower served as this year’s vice president of AWB’s Government Affairs Council. The Gjerde Award is named for the late Ron Gjerde, a longtime member of AWB’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. During his career, Gjerde’s clients included the Weyerhaeuser Company.

Finally, AWB’s annual Heavy Lifter Awards, given as a thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty for the business community, went to Richard Settle and Patrick Schneider of Foster Pepper PLLC in Seattle; Ron Bueing of Pivotal Law Group, Seattle; Gregg Barton of Perkins Coie LLP, Seattle; and Duke Schaub of Duke Schaub & Associates, Lacey.

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 8,100 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

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