AWB Statement on Gov. Inslee Budget Proposal
OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business, Washington state’s largest business organization representing small, medium and large employers, issued the following statement from AWB President Kris Johnson regarding Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed 2015-17 state budget:
“We share the governor’s goals in many areas, including the need to invest in education, but we cannot support $1.4 billion in new taxes as he proposed today.
Education funding will once again be a primary focus for lawmakers this session, but the governor has failed to offer a long-term, reliable source of funding. If education truly is the paramount duty of state leaders, they should fund it with the first dollars that come into the state’s treasury. Without any tax increases, the state is projected to receive $2.8 billion in additional tax revenue during the next budget cycle.
The cap-and-trade system the governor outlined earlier this week is an untested, unsustainable solution to the state’s long-term needs. Although the governor describes it as a tax on polluters, cap-and-trade is in fact a $1 billion tax increase on every family that puts gas in their car, heats their home and purchases products.
It’s also a tax on Washington employers, a group that already pays nearly 54 percent of all state and local taxes. Raising taxes on employers now will ultimately hurt the state’s ability to compete in a global economy.
Proposing to split the revenue between education, transportation and low-income families sets up a scenario where — if the governor succeeds in reducing greenhouse gas emissions — the state will eventually fail to generate the revenue that lawmakers would be relying upon to fund education and transportation.
Washington’s citizens deserve a transparent, logical tax system where there is a nexus between the revenue that’s raised and where it is spent. A cap-and-trade system aimed at funding education and transportation is neither transparent nor logical.
Finally, we agree with the governor that it is time to invest in Washington’s transportation system. Unfortunately, the governor’s transportation plan doesn’t fund statewide needs. And by proceeding with his plan to enact a costly low-carbon fuel standard, which will drive up the cost of gas, power and other products, the governor not only jeopardizes a transportation package in the Legislature, but he also makes the state less attractive for manufacturers.
We recognize that the governor’s budget proposal is the start of a conversation and that he is open to ideas that others may have. We also recognize that we have some big challenges ahead.
The last two legislative sessions have shown that lawmakers can make schools a priority without taking a tax-first approach to governing — and they can do it in a truly bipartisan way.”
About the Association of Washington Business
Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes more than 8,100 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit www.awb.org.