Friends and Neighbors,
The state Legislature started its 60-day session this week. On Tuesday Gov. Inslee gave his annual “State of the State” speech (you can read it here and watch it here). He called for new spending, more taxes and a huge hike in the minimum wage (Washington already has the highest in the nation). I'd like to share some of my thoughts on what the governor said.
In one breath the governor called for eliminating tax breaks, some of which are protecting your jobs, saying that money is needed elsewhere. He then turned around and boasted about the return on investment we'll get from the tax breaks extended to Boeing last fall.
While I supported the Boeing tax incentives, I did so with the expectation that we would return to Olympia this year to protect and expand jobs in other parts of the state – like Southwest Washington.
For example, this session I introduced legislation, House Bill 2203, that would extend the Boeing tax incentives to try to bring a helicopter manufacturing company to Southwest Washington. That's one way to make sure the Boeing tax breaks benefit areas of the state other than just Seattle. To be clear, we would get more out of these tax breaks – in terms of economic activity and new jobs – than they cost.
The governor said the state of the state is looking better every day. Yet for many in Southwest Washington, things aren't getting any better. In fact, some of Gov. Inslee's proposals, such as an 11.5-cent gas tax increase, the elimination of tax incentives that are protecting jobs, and likely new taxes to increase spending, all threaten to make things look worse for citizens in Southwest Washington.
Gov. Inslee talked about increasing the minimum wage by another $1.50 to $2.50 an hour then turned around and proposed giving tax breaks to small businesses in order to help them survive, ignoring the fact that a minimum wage increase will negatively impact existing jobs and future job opportunities. If we're going to help small businesses or any businesses – the ones who create the jobs – we have to stop adding to their costs.
“Low carbon fuel standard” = tax increase
On top of all this, Gov. Inslee wants to further increase costs on consumers and motorists by driving up fuel prices to support his climate initiatives. His “low carbon fuel standard” could raise fuel costs by $1 or more per gallon. It would be especially hard on working families in Southwest Washington if fuel prices skyrocket.
The governor talked about how we've taken great steps to make health care coverage more affordable. But many people in Southwest Washington have seen their premiums double and triple. Gov. Inslee then went on to say that health care is unaffordable – so in one breath he says things have gotten better and in another breath, things are worse.
Doing “hard things”
Gov. Inslee closed with a quote: “We can do hard things.” Well, the hard things that we need to do are to say no to more taxing and spending and say yes to getting the economy back on track and citizens back to work.
Thank you for your time. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.