April 8, 2019
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Federal Issues

Wall Street Journal: Affordable housing is a crisis around the world

Cities around the globe, from Sydney to Stockholm, are struggling to solve a growing housing affordability crisis, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

The issue has also come to the fore in Washington, where housing prices have increased dramatically in the Puget Sound region, but are also an issue in many rural areas as well.

Across 32 major global cities, home prices increased 24 percent on average over the last five years, while income increased only 8 percent, according to a London real-estate tracking firm.

The public and private sector are searching for solutions, whether relaxed construction regulations or increased subsidies and affordability mandates -- but so far, few solutions have met the need.

AWB is working with other groups to bring together local, state and congressional policymakers to find solutions to Washington's housing affordability issues during the first-ever Housing Summit to be held this July in SeaTac. Contact AWB's Stephanie Hemphill to learn more or join the effort.

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Spring Meeting
Practical Education

Expand career-connected learning across Washington state

By Maud Daudon

If you're a Washington business owner or manager wondering where to find skilled workers, you're not alone. And if you're a Washington parent or high school student, wondering how to get from school to a great job, you're not alone either.

You may also be the solution to each other's problem.

Last summer, the Career Connect Washington initiative convened groups of parents to discuss education and career preparation in Washington state. As part of a 10-year effort, we are learning how to better help students connect to both jobs and advanced education so they will be well positioned to step into the state's job market. Business, labor and education organizations are all stepping up; we need the Legislature to act as well...

Read the full guest column in The Seattle Times
Fiscally Unwise

A Capital Gains Tax Would Not Improve Budget Sustainability

By The Washington Research Council

Although the March revenue forecast increased estimated state revenues for the 2017-19 and 2019-21 biennia, the House Appropriations Committee Chair proposed a new capital gains tax along with his 2019-21 operating budget. The Senate is also considering a capital gains tax, although in this case the proceeds would be used to reduce other taxes rather than to increase the operating budget.

A capital gains tax would be highly volatile. Taxpayers can arrange their affairs to avoid them, and the value of capital gains realized by Washington taxpayers varies significantly year to year. Also, swings in capital gains are much bigger in percentage terms than swings in state sales tax revenue. Volatile taxes require stronger reserves to manage downturns, but the House bill would avoid constitutionally-required transfers to the rainy day fund by directing revenues from the tax to the education legacy trust account.

Additionally, a capital gains tax would certainly be challenged as an unconstitutional income tax. Even if it were eventually found to be constitutional, a court case would likely mean that any revenues would be suspended until after 2019-21. Building the budget around such a tax would be risky at best...

Read the full report from the Washington Research Council
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