July 13, 2015
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At last: Legislature finalizes budget deal, adjourns after six-month session

The gavels fell in unison Friday, ending the longest legislative session in state history – 176 days and three overtime sessions. After a deal to delay implementation of Initiative 1351 and a final vote on the state's first transportation package in a decade, the Legislature adjourned just after noon.

The Senate finished its business on Thursday after Democrats agreed to delay implementation of the costly Initiative 1351 in exchange for a two-year delay on requiring high schoolers to pass a biology exam to graduate. That deal was the final piece of a $38.2 billion budget deal, and came after the late-night passage of the 2015-17 budget June 30 that prevented a government shutdown. That budget was balanced, but only with the delay of the $2 billion unfunded mandate of I-1351.

The triple-overtime session went too long, but the final compromises include positive elements for Washington, AWB President Kris Johnson said in a statement after the Legislature adjourned.

This is, Johnson said, "a two-year operating budget that makes needed investments in K-12 education, reduces college tuition and provides raises for teachers and state employees — without imposing major new taxes. It isn’t perfect, but this is a good budget for taxpayers and employers."

AWB will publish a full roundup of the legislative session, including our voting record scorecard, in our upcoming Legislative Review. Contact Government Affairs Vice President Gary Chandler to learn more.

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Export-Import Bank helps employers compete globally

By U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Kris Johnson

With the creation of the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank over 80 years ago, many Washington state businesses -- both large and small -- have remarkable success stories to tell about growing their businesses because of exports.

These stories can be found throughout the Washington state in a variety of industries. Take for example, Seattle's Lighthouse for the Blind, a manufacturer of machine parts and molding for aerospace companies. Because of its robust export business supported by the bank, it is able provide more than 400 good-paying jobs for Washingtonians in the deaf-blind community. ...

Congress must act to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank charter. The consequences of doing nothing would be devastating to employers and employees in Washington state and around the nation.

Click here to read the full op-ed in The Hill

Our Voice: Lawmakers make right choice supporting gas tax

By the editorial board of the Tri-City Herald

Voting in favor of a significant tax hike is not easy for lawmakers from conservative legislative districts.

So the Mid-Columbia legislators who approved an 11.9-cent gas tax increase should be commended for having the courage to make the right decision. ...

Tax hikes are tough to take, but at least in this case the Tri-City area will get some benefit from the new revenue.

And that is thanks to several Mid-Columbia lawmakers who made the right, but tough, choice...

Click here to read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
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