July 8, 2019
Fast Facts
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Jerry Cornfield: 'Lawmakers did raise a lot of fees and taxes'

The Legislature passed more than 50 tax and fee bills to bring in more money to state coffers, writes Jerry Cornfield, the Olympia correspondent for The Herald, with Democratic majorities in both chambers pushing pass opposition by Republicans.

"State lawmakers outdid themselves this year in the assortment of ways they chose to extract more bucks from you, your neighbor, and even your friends in Oregon," Cornfield wrote last week. "They passed and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed 51 bills containing a means of generating money to help pay for what the state does now and will try to do in the near future for its 7.5 million residents."

The 51 tax and fee bills outnumber the 32 bills produced in the 2017 budget-writing session and the 30 revenue bills in 2015.

The new tax and fee bills range from narrow, like increased costs to file a death certificate, fish for smelt, operate delivery robots, to the wide-ranging, like higher B&O taxes for 82,000 professional service businesses.

The increased taxes are the major reason that the state expects to add more than $430 million in tax revenue over the next two years, and another $677 million in 2021-23, according to a summary of the recent economic and revenue forecast.

For more, contact Clay Hill, AWB government affairs director for tax and fiscal policy.

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Unintended Consequences

State's proposed overtime rule change goes too far, too fast

By AWB President Kris Johnson

If it's approved, any employer with salaried workers making less than that amount will be faced with the difficult decision to either raise their employees' salary to nearly $80,000 or convert the worker to hourly status. For employers who can't afford to give out big raises, they may have little or no choice but to switch employees to hourly status.

In theory, this could lead to increased pay for some workers, but that's only if their employer can afford to pay overtime. Small businesses, nonprofits and other employers that can't absorb the cost increase will likely cut services.

Even for workers who don't take a step backward financially, the change could feel like a demotion. Increasingly, employees value flexibility in work hours, particularly younger workers. Making the transition from a salaried job -- with the flexibility to duck out for a couple hours in the middle of the day to take care of family obligation -- to an hourly worker who is required to be in the office a full eight hours, without the option of working from home, will be jarring.

No one is disputing that Washington's overtime rule needs updating. But the state's proposal simply goes too far, too fast and risks harming the employees it's intended to help.

Read the full column in The Wenatchee Valley Business World