AWB Statement on 2019 Legislative Session
OLYMPIA — Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business, issued the following statement on the conclusion of the 2019 legislative session:
“We’re concerned that lawmakers chose to raise taxes at a time when the state budget was already growing at a remarkable rate. We understand the many competing demands for funding and appreciate investments in K-12 education and higher education. But even without raising taxes, lawmakers had $5.6 billion more to spend, and they failed to fully explore opportunities to reduce costs.
“Rather than looking for cost savings, lawmakers chose to raise more than $1 billion in new taxes over the next two years and $2.5 billion over four years. The $52.4 billion budget approved last night is nearly $8 billion more than the previous budget and represents a 17.5 percent increase in state spending, one of the largest increases in the last 25 years. This comes on the heels of double-digit growth in the previous two budgets, raising serious questions about the long-term sustainability of such spending.
“We’re pleased that lawmakers did not vote on a proposed capital gains tax, preserving one of Washington’s key competitive advantages, and we welcome positive steps in education, including special education funding and recognition that students need multiple pathways to graduation.
“We’re also encouraged that lawmakers listened to concerns raised by independent contractors and agreed to study proposed changes to this important sector of the economy.
“We look forward to working with lawmakers and agency leaders as they implement the clean energy law and appreciate the ability to implement this legislation first, before adopting a cap-and-trade system or low-carbon fuel standard. We remain concerned about the reliability of Washington’s power grid and preserving Washington’s low-cost power, which is one of our key competitive advantages.
“Unfortunately, the positive steps lawmakers made this year are overshadowed by our concerns about the long-term sustainability of the state’s dramatic spending growth and the potential for equally dramatic budget cuts when the next downturn in the economy occurs. We have seen this ‘boom-and-bust’ cycle before and hoped that lawmakers would avoid repeating it.
“We remain committed to working with lawmakers and others to bring economic prosperity to all of Washington.”