December 4, 2017
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Federal Issues

Senate passes tax reform, bringing major tax cuts closer to final passage

After a long week of vote counts and a late night of whirlwind amendments, the U.S. Senate passed the long-discussed tax reform bill in the early hours of Saturday morning. The vote is a major victory for the Republican majorities in Congress and for the president, bringing closer to final passage the first overhaul of U.S. tax law since 1986.

The $1.5 trillion tax bill cuts tax rates for businesses and will see lower taxes for most taxpayers. The centerpiece of the plan is lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, bringing American corporate tax rates more in line with those around the world. The Senate bill would also temporarily cut tax rates for families and individuals until 2025. It would also repeal the individual health insurance mandate, a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act. The tax bill adds an estimated $1 trillion to the U.S. deficit. Business Insider looked at what's in the final Senate bill.

All Republicans except Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., voted in favor. All Democrats voted against. The final vote count was 51-49. The Senate version must now be reconciled with the version already passed by the House. President Donald Trump has asked for the bill to be on his desk for a signature by Christmas.

The bill is a victory for manufacturers, but there is more work ahead, said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers: "Manufacturers are ready to ring in the new year empowered and emboldened to invest even more in our communities and our workers, to provide new opportunities for young people and families and to usher in an exciting new era for manufacturing in America."

Contact Amy Anderson, AWB government affairs director for federal issues, to learn more.

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Improving Career Pathways

Rewarding, good-paying careers await hands-on workers

By AWB President Kris Johnson

As many as 740,000 good-paying jobs in the state's manufacturing sector are open. These are jobs that often require a trade certificate or a two-year degree.

Filling all those hands-on jobs means we must rethink not only how we close the skills gap, but also the "interest gap" for the next generation of builders, welders and makers.

Too often, these good-paying career pathways take a backseat to a four-year degree track. The good news is that both tracks -- the trades and a bachelor's degree -- can be equally successful.

I recently traveled to Switzerland with the governor and a group of business leaders and education experts from across the state to look at the country's successful and robust apprenticeship programs, which are geared toward engaging 16-19-year-olds in meaningful work.

In the Swiss system, young apprentices can easily shift career paths or seek higher education after earning their initial training diploma. It's focused on options and opportunities -- right after graduation and into the future. I heard from several young people who said they were "finished" with the classroom by ninth grade and eager to work with their hands...

Read the full column in The Wenatchee Valley Business World
Bigger Issues at Play

Blaming Amazon for the Seattle area's problems is lazy and wrong-headed

By Washington State Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender

Our thriving economy is bringing additional people who buy homes and use our transportation systems, and we have Amazon along with every other growing company to thank for that. But the problem isn't too many jobs, and the solution is definitely not to blame our job-creating engines. Over the course of many years, we've amassed a deficit of about 120,000 homes in the state.

Subtracting Amazon from the housing equation would leave us still experiencing growth and escalating housing prices, just like many other states, yet with tens of thousands fewer high-wage jobs.

Blaming our entire housing affordability crisis on Amazon ultimately leads to a defeatist attitude. It also does a massive disservice to people experiencing homelessness, families struggling to stay in their homes, and businesses trying to source a local workforce...

Read the full op-ed in The Puget Sound Business Journal
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