May 6, 2019
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Oregon House approves $2 billion in new business taxes for schools

On a party-line vote, the Oregon House approved a major new tax on businesses to fund public education. The measure now moves to the Senate.

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Washington state knocks Massachusetts out of the top 10 biggest state economies

With annual growth almost double the national rate, Washington state has displaced Massachusetts to become one of the 10 largest economies in the nation for the first time.

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Alaska Airlines unseats Southwest for top spot in customer-satisfaction index

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines was the top-ranked carrier in the 2019 American Customer Satisfaction Index, released last week. Survey respondents said that Alaska's merger with Virgin America has paid off, with an expanded route network and lower fares.

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U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse named co-chair of Congressional Wine Caucus

Grape grower and congressman Dan Newhouse, R-WA, has been named co-chair of the Congressional Wine Caucus. In partnership with U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., the two will advocate for the nation's wine industry. Newhouse becomes the first co-chair of the caucus to come from Washington state.

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AWB's HealthChoice plan includes access to meQuilibrium, a personalized resilience-building program

The AWB HealthChoice plan provides access to high-quality medical benefits -- and much more. One of the programs included in HealthChoice is a personalized and confidential resilience-building program called meQuilibrium.

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New survey seeks ground-level workforce feedback from businesses

Employers who received a survey on workforce needs are being asked to reply. Responses help shape the state's education and workforce training programs to better respond to business needs.

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Applications open for Don C. Brunell Scholarships

There is still time for the children or grandchildren of AWB members to apply for the 2019 Don C. Brunell Scholarship for Future Leaders. The scholarship, in honor of AWB's longtime former president, can fund up to $2,000 for students attending undergraduate, graduate or career/vocational programs.

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Spring Meeting
Last-Minute Legislating


Spin Control: Doing the budget the way it's always done doesn't make it the best way

By Jim Camden

Legislators are apt to defend their budget process as "this is the way it's always done." If that was a good reason, one might think we would still be hanging horse thieves, placing miscreants in the stocks and throwing debtors into prison for not paying bills, or doing any number of imperfect things we've stopped doing.

In truth, the "always done" defense is only applied by people who do it that way because it suits them.

It suits legislative leaders to hold on to the budget until the very end of the session to have some leverage over hard-to-handle lawmakers. It suits budget writers from each chamber to sequester themselves somewhere away from the madding crowd of colleagues and lobbyists to avoid being pestered for everyone's favorite six-, seven-, or eight-figure project. And then there's always that familiar refrain that negotiators can't speak freely if discussions are in the open, because they might be criticized for suggesting something that doesn't sit well with the folks back home, even if it does break a logjam that leads to the deal.

This process keeps the people and businesses who will pay for all the programs and salaries out of the loop for most of the key decision points...

Read the full column in The Spokesman-Review
Talent and Capital


The Seattle-area economy punches above its weight -- and that's a huge strength

By Jon Talton, The Seattle Times

Newcomers -- and there are many -- might think that the Puget Sound region's economy is so hot because of two Big Tech headquarters, along with the "legacy" power of Boeing.

It's understandable. Amazon and Microsoft are two of the five giants that make up America's technology royalty (Apple, Facebook and Google are in the Bay Area). We're on the cutting edge of software, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and so much more.

Boeing's operations, especially commercial airliners, anchor one of the world's top aerospace clusters (the other being Airbus in Toulouse, France). The company is not only the nation's largest manufacturing exporter, but also, especially with its defense divisions, a strategic asset.

Together, the three employ about 166,000 here in well-paid, high-skilled jobs. Boeing is Washington's largest private employer, with a workforce of 69,830 as of February.

It's hard to think of another similar-sized metropolitan area in the United States with anything close.

But this is only a start in explaining why Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue enjoys one of the strongest economies in the nation. How strong? Per capita gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, was nearly $81,000 in 2017. That compares with $61,000 in San Diego and $63,000 in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Larger Phoenix lagged in at $45,000...

Read the full column in The Seattle Times
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