A taxing session for businesses, jobs
By Rep. Dan Kristiansen – Special to the chambers of commerce
My House Republican colleagues and I entered the 60-day regular session Jan. 11 with one thing in mind — job creation in the private sector.
We drafted a jobs plan called “Made in Washington” that sought changes to help employers create jobs. These included: reforming the state's workers' compensation insurance program, lowering the cost of unemployment insurance, providing regulatory reforms that would lower the cost of doing business in Washington, reforming our state's health care system to ensure accessible, affordable access to medical services, and increasing affordable, renewable energy supplies. (Read our plan online at: https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/our-solutions/made-in-washington.)
We asserted that putting people back to work is not only imperative to helping families, it is the responsible way for the Legislature to respond to the state's $2.8 billion budget shortfall. When people are working, they are less dependent on government services. At the same time, they have more disposable income to spend, which generates revenue that helps carry out the core functions of government.
Unfortunately, the Democrat majority had a different plan in mind — raising taxes. Rather than accepting our Made in Washington solutions, they sought to overturn Initiative 960 through passage of Senate Bill 6130. The initiative, approved by voters in 2007, required the Legislature to have a two-thirds majority approval to increase taxes. With I-960 out of the way, the Legislature needs only a simple majority to raise taxes.
House Republicans offered solutions that would have closed the budget gap WITHOUT TAX INCREASES. Instead, House and Senate Democrats reached an impasse on which taxes to raise, resulting in an extended, costly special session. At the time of this writing, it is unknown which taxes will be increased. I am concerned any tax increases will devastate employers and families, and result in further job losses.
Aside from the budget and taxes, several bills of interest to business passed the Legislature:
- House Bill 2603 requires state agencies to give small businesses a two-day grace period to comply with regulations before penalties can be assessed.
- Senate Bill 5041 requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to maintain a list of veteran-owned businesses on its public Web site and encourage state agencies to award at least 3 percent of procurement contracts to such businesses.
- Senate Bill 6267 provides for expeditious processing of water rights applications.
- Senate Bill 6349 requires the Department of Labor and Industries to establish a farm internship pilot project with small farmers in Skagit and San Juan counties to teach college students about agriculture.
- No reforms to lessen workers' compensation and unemployment insurance costs.
- Businesses will likely be hit hard with tax increases.
- Use of cell phone without a headset while driving is made a primary offense with a $124 fine (Senate Bill 6345).
Following the special session, I will provide an update on the final budget and tax package. Suffice to say I will not support increased taxes.
EDITOR'S NOTE: State Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represents the 39th Legislative District, and also serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or e-mail him and sign up for his e-newsletter at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen. His office address is: P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600.
###Washington State House Republican Communications