AWB Statement on End of Third Special Session, Missed Opportunities for Rural Washington
OLYMPIA — Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business, issued the following statement on the conclusion of the Legislature’s third special session of 2017:
“It’s extremely disappointing that lawmakers met for three special sessions and a record 193 days and still fell short in their support for rural Washington by failing to agree on a fix for the Hirst water rights decision, failing to approve a capital budget and failing to override the governor’s veto of tax relief for manufacturers.“Taken together, the message these actions send is that rural Washington, which is lagging behind the economic boom in the central Puget Sound region, is not a top priority, and that’s unfortunate.
“Despite the needlessly lengthy sessions, we were pleased last month to see lawmakers reach bipartisan agreement on a budget that made historic investments in K-12 education and provided much-needed tax relief for small manufacturers across the rural regions of our state.
“By choosing to veto the tax relief measure, which passed the Legislature with a bipartisan supermajority in both chambers, the governor missed an opportunity to provide meaningful help for rural Washington’s economy.
“Today’s adjournment of the third special session marks three additional missed opportunities to improve rural Washington’s economic health:
- Failing to fix the Hirst water rights decision leaves rural land owners and farmers in limbo, with an uncertain future, unable to move forward with building projects.
- Failing to approve a capital budget means that construction projects throughout the state will be delayed, including new classrooms for public schools.
- Failing to override the governor’s veto of the manufacturing tax relief means that approximately 10,000 small- and medium-sized manufacturers will miss an opportunity to make needed investments in their operations, investments that would have contributed to a healthy economy.
“The state can and should do all it can to lift up the economy in every corner of the state. Even today’s unemployment data illustrates that while the central Puget Sound region and a couple of other pockets around the state continue their economic boom, many parts of rural Washington are still waiting for any sign that the recovery will expand to reach their towns and communities.
“While we appreciate the efforts of the Legislature in the waning days of the last two sessions, we’re disappointed that more wasn’t done to shore up the economic health of the majority of rural counties that are home to families in need of good-paying careers that private-sector investment and economic development would bring. We encourage lawmakers to continue working to fix the Hirst decision and to provide needed tax relief for small manufacturers.”