Op-Ed: Job creation and smaller government are solutions to state’s budget problems
Special to the Chambers of Commerce
As we enter the second month of the 2011 legislative session, here are some numbers to contemplate:
- Washington added about 2,100 jobs in December, yet the statewide unemployment rate INCREASED from 9.2 percent to 9.3 percent. We're still losing jobs faster than gaining them.
- More than 6,600 people in the 39th District were looking for a job in November, the second highest unemployment rate compared to other legislative districts across the state.
- More than 325,000 people in Washington were unemployed in December. That's more than the combined populations of Arlington, Bellingham, Edmonds, Everett, Marysville, Monroe, Mount Vernon, Oak Harbor, Sedro-Woolley, and Snohomish.
- State operating budget shortfall for the remainder of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011: $587 million.
- Projected state operating budget shortfall for the fiscal cycle 2011-13, which begins July 1, 2011: $5.1 billion.
The numbers paint a picture of the realities in our state. Despite the recession being over, its effects remain. Families, individuals and employers continue to struggle in this weak economy.
My Republican colleagues and I know our state can do better – and that's why private-sector job creation remains our number one priority during this legislative session.
Small businesses didn't lead us into this down economy, but given the opportunity, they can lead us out. But first, we need to change government from stifling that opportunity to helping employers retain and hire workers.
Some of the legislation we are proposing include:
- reforming our workers' compensation and unemployment insurance programs to reduce costs to employers;
- doubling the small business B&O tax credit and providing a two-year B&O tax exemption for new or expanded businesses;
- a moratorium on new regulations except in specified instances (House Bill 1156);
- providing a training wage for new workers (for small businesses with 50 or less workers); and
- streamlining the state's permitting process to remove barriers for small businesses looking to expand or locate in Washington.
If we can build a platform for prosperity, it will help not only to create more jobs, but will also bring in more revenue for state and local governments.
That's part of the way we will solve our deep state budget problems. The other part will be balancing the budget without raising taxes, and setting state government on a course to prioritize, reset and adjust to economic realities, much the same way families and small businesses have already done. This discussion begins with prioritizing education, public safety and protecting our vulnerable populations, and ends with a long-term, sustainable approach to our budget. We must ask in the budget: Is this a need or a want? And then make adjustments accordingly, realizing that state government can no longer afford to do everything.
Change is never easy, but it is absolutely necessary. That's why I need to hear from you. As we move forward, I encourage you to stay informed and be involved. You can find information, sign up for my e-newsletter, and e-mail me from my Web site at houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen. You can also track bills from the legislative Web site at: www.leg.wa.gov.
Together, we will get through these difficult times, with a smaller, more efficient state government, and a brighter, future economy that begins to grow jobs.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus and represents the 39th Legislative District. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or e-mail him through his Web site at: houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen. His office address is: P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600.