August 5, 2019
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Ron Bueing, longtime statewide and AWB leader on tax issues, retires

A prominent voice in tax law, and a longtime volunteer leader of AWB's business advocacy on tax and fiscal issues, retired last week.

Ron Bueing spent the last five years of his career as a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Seattle. He had worked and led a variety of firms since entering the profession in 1983 as a tax associate at Arthur Andersen.

Bueing was the longtime chair of AWB's Tax & Fiscal Policy Council and a member of the AWB board. He was a frequent visitor to Olympia, testifying with the employer's perspective on a variety of tax-related bills.

He also was a representative on several significant legislative efforts over the years that helped improve the state's tax system.

Independent of AWB, in 2013 Ron volunteered and was appointed by the governor to the Citizen Commission for Performance Measurement of Tax Preferences.

“The quality and quantity of his contributions to tax policy issues in Washington are unlikely to be matched,” said Clay Hill, AWB government affairs director for tax and fiscal policy. “I think of him as a sort of Babe Ruth of tax policy. If we had a Hall of Fame, he’d be a first-ballot inductee in the inaugural class.”

AWB gave Bueing the S. Fred Bruhn Award in 2011 to honor his many years of service, particularly his work in 2002 on AWB's Machinery & Equipment Workgroup, which was instrumental in negotiating the reform of Washington state’s regulations on the sales and use tax exemption for manufacturing machinery and equipment. That award also noted his work in 2007 as AWB's representative on the Department of Revenue's Digital Goods Study Committee.

AWB again honored Bueing with the Heavy Lifter Award in 2017. In announcing the award, AWB President Kris Johnson said, “Ron is a tireless advocate for the employer community, helping us understand complex and confusing tax issues being considered,” said AWB President Kris Johnson. “He has been the bedrock of our tax policy discussions for many years, lending his expertise to AWB members and staff as well as testifying on issues in Olympia. He has earned this honor with his many years of service.”

Contact Clay Hill to learn more about these and other tax issues.

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Solving Housing Issues

Housing: A huge issue for Washington's long-term economic health

By AWB President Kris Johnson

We hear about skyrocketing home prices in places like Seattle, San Francisco, and New York and shake our heads. Modest three-bedroom ramblers going for $1 million or more. Hopeful home-buyers engaging in bidding wars, sometimes buying houses sight-unseen, or skipping inspections to ensure someone else doesn't close the deal first.

But the lack of housing of all types is really a nationwide crisis, according to U.S. Rep. Denny Heck. Heck, D-Wash., was one of the speakers at a statewide Housing Forum put on last month by a coalition of 10 organizations including the Association of Washington Business (AWB).

The country is at least 5 million homes short of what's needed, Heck said, and the case could be made the shortfall is more like 7 million. "Supply is not keeping up with demand," he said. It only gets worse as Washington is expected to add 1.5 million people by 2040...

For employers, the availability of high-quality, affordable housing is a critical factor in the ability to attract and retain skilled workers. For employees, finding housing within the same communities as their jobs mean shorter commutes, more time spent with families and better work-life balance. And for communities, all these elements contribute to the quality of place we all desire.

Read the full guest column in The Wenatchee Valley Business World
Costing Jobs

One-size-fits-all minimum wage hike hurts rural Central Washington

By U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-WA

Last week, the House of Representatives voted on the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, despite warnings from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that this would result in the loss of nearly 4 million American jobs.

In Washington state, we have already seen how mandating a higher minimum wage is negatively affecting our economy. With a statewide minimum wage of $12 per hour, Washington mandates one of the highest rates in the country, and it will increase by another $1.50 in January 2020. In an attempt to address wage disparity in large cities like Seattle, which already institutes a $15 minimum wage, this sharp, mandatory increase has led to businesses filing bankruptcy, and it is already having a harmful effect on small businesses and nonprofits in Central Washington.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Columbia Basin in Moses Lake, for example, reached out to my office to share their concerns with the state's accelerated wage increases and about the federal legislation.

The Boys & Girls Club is already struggling, but further increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour for the entry-level employees they hire will force them to make a very difficult decision: raise participation fees for low-income families or eliminate the programs they offer.

Read the full column in The Columbia Basin Herald