February 5, 2018
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Senate committee passes carbon tax; energy and fuel costs would increase

A reworked version of Gov. Jay Inslee's carbon tax passed a key Senate committee last week. Senate Bill 6203 would place a price on carbon emissions, increasing the cost of electricity, as well as prices for gasoline, diesel and other transportation fuels. The bill passed the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. It moves on to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Among the changes to Inslee's initial proposal is a reduction in the carbon tax rate as the bill takes effect. The revised version begins the carbon tax at $10 per ton in 2019, then increases by $2 a ton annually until reaching $30 per ton.

The bill also permanently and statutorily exempts 56 business sectors from the carbon tax, defining them as energy intensive and trade-exposed industries (EITE). The Department of Commerce may also use objective numeric criteria to exempt other manufacturers who may be eligible for EITE status.

"This is absolutely a work in progress," said bill sponsor Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle. "I am very committed to an acknowledgement of the unique characteristics of key commodity, low-margin, trade-dependent and globally competitive industries. It's important. We are a trade state and proud of that. It is incredibly important to our economy."

"If you are a company who is looking for a place to expand, this is a 'do not enter' sign placed on Washington state," said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. "Jobs will be cut and jobs will flee the state."

The bill has extensive provisions in many policy areas, from transportation and rural development to labor, education, the state budget and even health care.

The Northwest News Network and KING 5 have more on the bill.

Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Mary Catherine McAleer to learn more.

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Manufacturing Bedrock

Work to ensure Boeing builds its next jet in the Puget Sound region

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

Glowing praise of the Puget Sound region by Boeing's chief executive is reassuring as the state of Washington seeks to land production of the company's next jetliner.

"Puget Sound is part of Boeing for the future in a very strong way," Dennis Muilenburg said in an interview with Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates.

But the region and state must continue working hard to convince the company that its hometown remains the best place in the world to manufacture its next plane, informally dubbed the 797.

A task force convened by Gov. Jay Inslee last year is making progress and preparing to submit a bid if there's a formal request for site proposals later this year. Regional groups in areas such as Snohomish County and Spokane also are making their case. This is a critical effort to retain and grow an industry that's a cornerstone of the state's economy.

While Muilenburg didn't tip his hand on the 797, which Boeing hasn't yet committed to build, he did drop hints about where Washington can improve its competitiveness.

One is the cost of living and doing business in Seattle, which are "higher than most of our other sites," he said...

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
Hard Work Remains

Competitiveness Redbook highlights Washington's successes, opportunities

By AWB President Kris Johnson

Washington's economy is the envy of many states across the country. Job growth in our urban areas is booming and cranes pepper the Seattle and Bellevue skylines.

All that points to a robust statewide economy today and into the future. Or, does it?

Each year, the Association of Washington Business (AWB) digs deeper into the state's economy and competitiveness, going beyond the headlines and accolades from outside groups, to determine where Washington can improve and harness opportunities for growth.

AWB's 2018 Competitiveness Redbook, released last month, is a data-driven guide to Washington state's economic health that uses comparisons -- 59 tables in all -- with other states to benchmark performance in key indicators.

One important indicator is job growth. The latest numbers show job growth remains a strength, with nearly 80,000 new jobs added over the past year. Looking deeper, however, that's actually 21,000 fewer jobs than the previous year, dropping our state down one spot to sixth in the nation...

Read the full column in The Wenatchee Valley Business World
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