June 15, 2020
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Top Stories

Tax increases 'almost certain' to be part of new state budget amid coronavirus economic downturn

This week the state will release its official revenue forecast, which is expected to show a tax revenue shortfall of billions of dollars. Lawmakers are discussing tax increases to balance the budget, even though this is an election year. Leaders are drawing a contrast with the 2008 recession, which was addressed largely with spending cuts.

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State agencies map out cuts to match projected budget shortfall

While there are calls for tax increases to fill a possible $4 billion loss of expected state tax revenue, all agencies are also being asked to plan for what a 15% budget cut would look like. The governor's budget chief calls it a drill, saying, "if we actually had a budget like this it would be horrifying."

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Head of state schools says to plan for reopening in the fall -- but also plan for contingencies

Washington's schools chief announced that he expects public K-12 schools to reopen in the fall with in-person learning, as long as public health guidelines allow it. Schools should also plan for contingencies, including students attending classes in shifts and enhanced at-home learning.

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Rebound and Recovery resources continue to expand their reach and impact

AWB's Rebound and Recovery site has already had hundreds of requests for personal protective equipment. Employers are using this made-in-Washington PPE Connect directory to find the key PPE to safely reopen. The site's Business Tool Kit has also had thousands of downloads.

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Facilities/property management reopening guide now available from AWB

AWB's CompWise program has created free reopening guides for all employers, even those who are not part of our retrospective rating program. The latest guide is for those in facilities and property management. Guides are also available for hospitality as well as manufacturing and retail.

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Nomination deadline extended for Washington Excellence Awards

The nomination deadline for the Washington Excellence Awards has been extended to Friday, July 31. Take five minutes now to nominate a business online! The Washington Excellence Awards is one of our favorite annual programs because it gives AWB the chance to showcase all that Washington employers have to offer. With three new categories for 2020, there are even more opportunities for companies to get recognition, and self-nominations are encouraged.

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AWB weekly webinar this Wednesday to cover health care, economic impacts

The COVID-19 Employer Resources Webinar Series this week will bring you the latest update on the state of the health care industry in Washington. Hear insights for supporting your employees' health and well-being. Register online now!

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Federal Issues

U.S. Supreme Court rules that Civil Rights Act bars job discrimination against LGBT employees

The high court ruled today that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars job discrimination because of sex, also offers protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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Main Street Lending Program expanded to reach more small businesses

The Federal Reserve has expanded the scope of its $600 billion Main Street Lending Program to serve much smaller businesses. The minimum loan size has been decreased and the loan terms have been lengthened.

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Federal Reserve predicts U.S. economy will shrink by 6.5% this year

The coronavirus pandemic will cause America's economy to shrink by 6.5% this year before growing 5% next year, according to new predictions from the Federal Reserve. The central bank predicts unemployment will drop to a still-elevated 9.3% this year, then slowly decrease to 5.5% by 2022. That prediction comes as economists announced that the United States formally entered a recession in February.

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Closure of U.S.-Canada border reportedly will be extended another 30 days

Traffic between the United States and Canada has dropped by 95% since the border was largely closed on March 21. That 30-day closure on non-essential travel has been extended several times. There are reports that it will be extended again to late July.

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Other News

Employers 'deeply concerned' over unemployment fraud send letter seeking answers

AWB and a coalition of other employer advocates sent a letter Friday to the Department of Employment Security and top state officials. The letter said employers are "deeply concerned" about the impact of the billion-dollar unemployment insurance fraud during the coronavirus economic shutdown.

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Gov. Inslee extends proclamation aimed at protecting high-risk workers

Last week the governor extended his proclamation giving high-risk workers the right to protect themselves from COVID-19 without jeopardizing their employment status or income.

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PNNL launches COVID-19 technology assistance program to aid small businesses

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is offering its technical expertise and resources to help Northwest businesses overcome issues related to fighting the novel coronavirus.

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Reps. McMorris Rodgers and Newhouse call for inclusion of soft white and red winter wheat into Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Growers of soft white, hard red winter and soft red winter wheat were hit by price drops and fluctuation due to the coronavirus impacts on commerce and the economy. U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse are requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture support Washington wheat growers by including those three classes of wheat under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

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Rep. Herrera Beutler wins new U.S. Chamber award for bipartisanship

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a new award to recognize members of Congress who sign off as cosponsors of bills introduced by a member of the opposite party. U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was one of just 20 members of the U.S. House to receive the new Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship.

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AWB donating $2,000 to Camp Hope on behalf of Spring Meeting attendees

AWB is donating $2,000 to Camp Hope, a place of respite and growth for children and youth who have been impacted by domestic violence, rather than spending the money on take-home gifts for attendees at the annual Spring Meeting. The non-profit was selected in a poll of the 400-plus people who attended the virtual Spring Meeting earlier this month.

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Deadline approaching to apply for Don C. Brunell Scholarship for Future Leaders

Applications are now being accepted for the Don C. Brunell Scholarship for the 2020-21 school year. The scholarship of up to $1,000 is available for college, vocational, certificate or graduate programs. Applicants must be the child or grandchild of an AWB member or employee. The deadline is June 30.

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Employee Assistance Programs are more important than ever

AWB's HealthChoice coverage includes a free employee assistance program, giving your employees someone to talk with 24 hours a day.

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AWB Events & Resources

Connect with Congress: Join the federal policy conversation online Aug. 11

Mark your calendars for August 11 and join us online for a series of federal policy discussions with Washington's congressional delegation, featuring some of our local members and some of our international trade partners. Now is the time to secure your spot to engage with your federal representatives. Register now.

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Tweet of the Week

Key Resources



They Said It

Tax Increases Are on the Table

"The idea of solving this budget problem with an all-cuts budget is not something this governor is interested in and I can't imagine he would sign such a budget." ~ David Schumacher, Gov. Jay Inslee's budget director, in a call last week with reporters.




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Now More Than Ever, Health Insurance Matters
No Time for Heavier Burdens

A Struggling Economy Is No Time to Raise Taxes

By AWB President Kris Johnson

There's a great degree of fragility in our economy and in communities across the state. With approximately 1.2 million unemployment claims in Washington as of mid-May -- and thousands of businesses forced to close their doors, some never to reopen -- putting additional burdens on our state's employers, employees and communities would not be helpful.

Businesses pay more than half of all state and local taxes in Washington, so if they aren't able to succeed, the state's tax revenue will continue to fall. And those same private-sector employers pay the wages that sustain the other two major pillars of state tax revenue: sales and property taxes.

As dire as the state's budget situation might be, our state's small businesses and other private-sector employers are in far too fragile a position to handle a bigger tax burden.

Let's be clear: We need to double down on our commitment to grow jobs and help restart the economy. Now is the time to give employers and employees every possible tool to recover, not to add new burdens. Help employees and workers receive training to move into new industries. Invest in infrastructure, including broadband. Pause new rulemaking as the state did in 2010 during the recession.

The economy is going to look different on the back end. Now is the time to come together as Washingtonians to give the economy the confidence it needs to be strong and dynamic

You can't tax your way out of a recession.

But you can grow and build your way out.

Fortunately, that's exactly what our state's private-sector employers do...

Read the full op-ed in The Chronicle