Opinion editorial by Rep. Dan Kristiansen: Helping all sectors of our economy

A three-day special session of the Legislature ended on November 9 following the passage of two bills aimed at securing aerospace industry jobs and the production of Boeing’s 777X in our state.

With the Legislature’s work completed, attention turned to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers’ (IAM) contract vote with Boeing. In a vote watched closely across our country, the IAM rejected the contract by 67 percent.

The next day, Boeing said it would not re-engage the IAM on contract negotiations until 2016 and would review 777X options in other states. The company expects to make a final decision in two to three months. With Boeing already having 259 agreements in place for the new airplane, states will be making their best pitches.

Whether you feel the IAM turned down a good offer or Boeing asked too much from the IAM, there is one thing everyone can agree on: The future of the aerospace industry in our state is uncertain. This could have a major impact on local families and communities.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the aerospace industry that faces uncertainty in our state. All sectors of our economy face serious challenges. These challenges include an expensive workers’ compensation system, a unique business and occupation tax, an uncertain permitting process, and a cumbersome regulatory climate – to name a few.

It’s not just what our businesses and their employees currently face; it’s what they could face.

Employers and their employees need certainty so they can plan for the future. However, Olympia keeps holding new threats and costs over them.

For example, the governor proposed nearly $1.3 billion in tax increases earlier this year which would have hurt thousands of small service businesses. He is also proposing a regional cap-and-trade program, which would threaten our state’s competitive advantage of low-cost energy.

There is also a push to raise the state gas tax by as much as 11.5 cents per gallon. This would hurt the bottom lines of smaller employers that move goods and families that are struggling.

We also know the implementation of Obamacare will force new costs and regulations on businesses and this will have financial consequences for their employees.

Olympia is sending the wrong message at a time when other states are actively recruiting our employers and rolling out the welcome mats. Meanwhile, our state lost 9,500 jobs over the last two months.

The Legislature needs to confront this reality: It’s hard to do business in our state. State lawmakers can – and must – do something about it.

A legislative colleague of mine made an important point in the recent special session: “If it’s good for Goliath, it’s good for David.” Simply put: It’s great that we are helping the aerospace industry, but we should be helping all sectors of our economy – so they can grow and hire more people.

There are proposals on the table to lower workers’ compensations costs, lessen tax burdens, streamline the permitting process, and slow down the growth of rules and regulations. These ideas should be front and center on the first day of the 2014 legislative session on January 13.

I know state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle care about the strength of our economy, families and communities. Job creation shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It’s just a matter of having the political courage to move solutions forward.

Rep. Dan Kristiansen represents the 39th Legislative District

State Representative Dan Kristiansen, 39th Legislative District
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000