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Press Release

Tuesday, January 28

Governor's quick fix on education not what Washington needs

Focus should be on growing the economy, jobs and tax base in Washington

OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business today told lawmakers the best way to ensure funding for K-12 education is to encourage employer investments, new jobs and economic growth that will produce more tax revenues for vital state programs.

Unfortunately, Gov. Inslee’s proposals do just the opposite.

“They increase burdens on Washington employers and put them at a competitive disadvantage while doing little to address the long-term funding needs of Washington’s schools,” said Kris Johnson, president of AWB, which represents more than 8,100 employers across the state, the majority of which are small businesses.

“This is like putting new tires on a stalled car. It might look good, but it won’t get you where you need to go.

“The state made a good faith effort toward K-12 funding this past year, “ Johnson continued, “but as the state Supreme Court recently noted, more must be done to correct that inequity. Unfortunately, the governor’s plan to eliminate a handful of tax incentives does not address the long-term funding challenge we face, and would have serious negative impacts on the employers who rely on these incentives,” said Johnson.

“Repealing tax exemptions for things like janitorial services and bottled water would only add to employers’ costs. With two-thirds of Washington counties struggling with unemployment rates above the national average, do we really want policies that increase consumer prices and make it harder for employers to maintain and create jobs?

For example, Inslee wants to re-impose the sales tax on bottled water – a tax voters overwhelming repealed in 2010, Jim Connelly, president of the family-owned Lodi Water company in Chewelah, said his sales dropped 10 percent the last time the state reinstated the tax. “I just put in a new line and I would hate to have to lay anyone off because of this,” Connelly said.

Johnson also pointed out that the governor’s proposal to tax recycled refinery gas conflicts with the state’s commitment to encourage recycling and the efficient use of resources. “No other western state taxes these materials and doing so would put Washington employers at a competitive disadvantage.”

“Rather than piecemeal measures that increase burdens on small and medium-sized employers, what we really need are programs that encourage and support economic development and growth that will create jobs and increase tax revenues to the state. That would be a great first step toward not only bolstering our recovery, but helping the long-term funding of our schools.”

About the Association of Washington Business

Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes more than 8,100 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit


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