July 13, 2020
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Top state leaders join AWB to discuss child care and early childhood education solutions

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated old problems and created new ones for working parents, and their employers when it comes to child care, according to top state leaders who joined AWB last week for a webinar discussing early childhood education.

"I think it's a time of great opportunity to do some restructuring of the way we do things," said First Lady Trudi Inslee.

Working parents were already having a hard time getting good care for their children before the pandemic. Now it's even harder. About 20% of the state's providers are closed now, and 44% of early educators have been laid off or furloughed, the nonprofit Child Care Aware of Washington reports.

And for many of the grandparents, aunts and uncles that used to take care of their younger relatives before and after school, it's no longer safe to do so.

"We cannot bring our economy back without having functional child care," Secretary Ross Hunter of the state Department of Children, Youth and Families said.

There are many ways Washington employers can help.

A flexible work schedule is at the top of the list for Deeann Burtch Puffert, executive director of Child Care Aware of Washington. She used her own workplace as an example.

"I sat down with my staff, many of whom have school-aged children and younger, and said, let's just get rid of the tyranny of the nine to five workday," Puffert said. "Sit down with the full day, seven days a week -- most of my employees are exempt -- and figure out how you can get your job done while meeting the needs of your family."

Puffert also recommends employers train supervisors to support employees with young children; allow employees who can work from home to do so; contribute to flexible spending accounts for child care; provide financial support to employees with children, or to child care programs; and tell elected officials to prioritize funding for child care to boost economic recovery.

"Employers have a profound impact on the quality of life of their employees," Puffert said. "Simple things can make a huge difference for a family."

Watch the full webinar here and contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more.

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Self-Inflicted Wound

Seattle's new tax pushes us to a tipping point

By Jon Talton

Seattle is facing more economic uncertainty than the "Boeing bust" of the 1970s, in a world where a pandemic and nationalism are combining to threaten a repeat of the Great Depression.

The unemployment rate is close to 14%, hotel revenues are off 85% compared with this past year, the lucrative cruise season is shut down along with a huge swath of businesses that can't work remotely or provide essential deliveries. All this is exponentially worse than during the Great Recession.

Amid this crisis, the City Council passed a tax on large- and medium-sized businesses with "highly paid" employees. I use quotes because the levy begins at $150,000 a year, which is hardly outrageous compensation in a city with so many advanced industries and headquarters.

The new tax will begin for companies with a payroll of a measly $7 million -- this is hardly confined to Amazon. No wonder it sweeps up about 800 companies and other entities (although some nonprofits may be exempted). And it is on top of the state business and occupation (B&O) tax and other fees...

The tax risks inhibiting business startups in the city. And the worst outcome would be the loss of major headquarters. These crown jewels generate good jobs and tax revenue, train leaders who go on to establish new companies, and provide disproportionate aid to the nonprofit sector...

Read the full column in The Seattle Times
Discouraging Great Jobs

Seattle's new payroll tax is bad policy

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

The Seattle City Council passed its latest iteration of a payroll tax Monday, a brazen move out of touch with the economic crisis facing the city.

Under the political cover of the COVID-19 emergency, the council voted 7-2 to push through a long-term tax on the city's richest employers for paying high-income jobs. The council has long shown a willingness to stretch to invent a rationale for an "Amazon tax," having previously discussed it as a necessity for addressing homelessness and other inequities.

Once again, the council machinated toward a tax while still brainstorming its goal along the way. But setting bad governance aside, taxing employers for providing high-income jobs within city limits could be ruinous for the city's, and region's, struggling economy.

The 800 or so businesses subject to the payroll tax -- Amazon preeminent among them -- now have incentive to take their highest-paying jobs across Lake Washington, or further. While other cities welcome well-paying jobs and court more of them, Seattle is punitive instead...

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times