Dear Friends and Neighbors,
You may have read recently that our state lost 9,500 jobs in September and October – moving our state unemployment rate to 7 percent. It's easy to see this through a statistical lens, but behind the numbers are individuals and families who have struggled and will continue to do so through the holiday season. I hear from many people who are struggling and not all of them are even unemployed. For example, a retired gentleman by the name of Joe told me that he is concerned about not being able to pay the last half of his property taxes. There are good people facing bad situations and it's very unfortunate.
I wish I could promise Joe and others that our economy will improve and government will be a part of the solution – not the problem. But right now, it's not clear. A recent report from the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council revealed our state's economy is continuing to improve, but the recovery remains slow. Meanwhile, as employers try to plan for the future, they have to consider the impacts of Obamacare, proposed tax increases and the threat of higher gas (proposed state gas tax increase) and energy prices (proposed regional cap-and-trade system). These are not the type of conditions that encourage employers to grow businesses and hire more people.
The question is: What can state lawmakers do about the situation when they arrive in Olympia on January 13 for the 60-day legislative session? I think we can do a lot – if we have the political courage. I shared some of these ideas at the Greater Spokane Incorporated Legislative Forum and Reception on December 4, where I was one of four panelists from the Legislature. We discussed the challenges facing employers and their employees, transportation, health care and other issues. The annual event is also a preview of the upcoming legislative session.
Some of my legislative colleagues recently put together a video that captures many of the solutions I support for our economy. If you have the time, please consider watching it here.
In your service,