AWB: Let's Build a Healthy Economy for All
OLYMPIA — Washington’s economy is growing in specific places and sectors, but the prosperity is fragile and not uniform throughout the state, said Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business.
So while it’s true there are good reasons to be confident about Washington, as Gov. Jay Inslee declared Tuesday in his annual State of the State address, lawmakers must keep their focus on building a healthy economy where everyone has an opportunity to succeed, Johnson said in response.
"If you live in the Seattle area and work in high-tech, this is a great time to be in Washington," Johnson said. “Our desire is to see this kind of opportunity extend throughout the state, to all corners of Washington and to all sectors of the economy.
"Raising taxes on employers, as the governor has proposed in his supplemental budget, threatens this goal and jeopardizes the slow but steady progress the economy has made over the last several years,” Johnson added.
Employers agree that last year’s passage of a statewide transportation revenue and reform package is worth celebrating, Johnson said. "As the governor noted, it came as a result of a bipartisan effort and with the help of business and labor groups. This is the model for success and should be replicated."
Employers also celebrate with the governor in the investment in K-12 schools and virtually unheard of reduction in higher education tuition, Johnson said.
It's disappointing, however, that the governor wants to address the issue of raising wages by supporting a proposed minimum wage ballot initiative. "We believe the Legislature is better able to work with small businesses on this issue to ensure they aren’t unduly harmed,” Johnson said.
Ultimately, employers believe the best way to grow wages in all sectors of the economy is to look for ways to help businesses succeed and to build an educated workforce capable of meeting the demands of the 21st century economy.
Finally, the governor briefly touched on his proposed rule capping carbon emissions. As the governor noted, employers are engaged in the process with state officials, but we remained concerned about how much it will cost employers and families in the form of higher electricity, gasoline and natural gas prices.
"On behalf of nearly 8,000 private employers, we look forward to working with the governor and lawmakers in 2016 to find bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing our state," Johnson said. "We remain committed to supporting policies that will grow careers and opportunities for all Washingtonians."
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 nearly 8,000 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 www.awb.org.