AWB Statement on End of 2017 Regular Session, Special Session
OLYMPIA — Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business, issued the following statement on the scheduled conclusion of the 2017 regular legislative session and the special session ahead:
“We appreciate the difficult task lawmakers faced this session attempting to craft a two-year state budget that funds vital services, promotes a healthier economy and lives up to the needs of our public schools. However, it’s disappointing to see the House and Senate come so close to agreement on policy issues and yet fail to reach consensus on a two-year budget during the 105-day regular session.
“Like the previous two budget negotiations, the sticking point is taxes. House Democrats are proposing $3 billion in new and higher taxes, an increase that would grow government spending 17 percent over the current $38 billion budget. Such an increase would place new burdens on families and small businesses that are still struggling.
“For example, a 7 percent capital gains tax would apply not only to ‘wealthy investors,’ but also to small-business owners who are relying on the sale of their business for their retirement. The proposed business and occupation tax offers some relief to the smallest of businesses, but tens of thousands of Washington employers would see a 20 percent B&O tax increase.
“The cumulative impact of these tax proposals, combined with other rising costs such as the increasing minimum wage and workers’ compensation insurance, makes it difficult for employers to compete in a regional and global economy.
“Lawmakers have already increased K-12 funding by $4.5 billion since 2013 without a general tax increase, and Washington is projected to collect an additional $3 billion in revenue during the next budget cycle thanks to economic growth.
“While another 30-day special session isn’t necessary in our opinion, we hope all sides come together and reach a compromise that meets the needs of students and enhances the state’s economic competitiveness.”