AWB statement on 2018 legislative session
OLYMPIA — Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business, issued the following statement on the conclusion of the 2018 legislative session:
“We are disappointed legislators did not do more to address Washington’s urban-rural economic divide. While there were a few successes, including a fix for the Hirst court decision on water rights, there were also many missed opportunities.
“At the top of the list is the Legislature’s failure to support manufacturers by lowering the business and occupation (B&O) tax rate. Last year, a strong bipartisan majority agreed to include tax relief for manufacturers as part of the state budget, but it was unfortunately vetoed by the governor. This year, lawmakers put the issue back on the table by considering legislation that would have reduced the B&O tax on manufacturers — a part of the economy that’s lost jobs over the last two decades — but it failed to pass. This is especially disappointing considering the widespread recognition among lawmakers about the need to boost the economy in rural Washington and the extraordinary growth in state revenue that made the tax relief feasible.
“Legislators also failed to pass legislation to significantly improve and expand broadband internet in rural communities. AWB hosted two summits last year on the subject of rural jobs, and one of the things we learned is that closing the digital divide is absolutely critical for the economic success of rural communities.
“We appreciate the continued spending on K-12 education in the 2018 supplemental budget, but we’re concerned about the use of revenue intended for the rainy day fund to speed up the timeline for school funding. The economy is growing, which means now is the time to increase rainy day reserves, not dip into them.
“We remain committed to the goal of economic prosperity in all of Washington and look forward to working with lawmakers in 2019 to achieve it.”