Issue Position: The Economy & Jobs
Senator Maria Cantwell came to the Senate from the private sector and understands that a strong economy requires growing businesses, quality jobs and a skilled workforce. Maria has worked to ensure a promising future for Washington's industries and the dedicated workers who drive them. As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, she has fought to protect and strengthen small businesses across the state and championed important tax reform to help businesses and citizens thrive. Maria was the first member of her family to graduate from college and she understands the importance of affordable education to a strong, innovative economy.
Bringing Tax Fairness to Washington Residents
Maria has worked to promote tax fairness for Washingtonians. Residents of states with a state income tax are allowed to deduct these taxes on their federal tax returns. However, residents of states like Washington with higher sales taxes instead of an income tax had no similar deduction until 2004 when Maria helped get a temporary sales tax deduction signed into law. Now Maria is working to make the deduction permanent.
Supporting Reasonable Tax Cuts
Maria supports commonsense tax cuts to encourage savings, reduce the burden on the middle class, spur economic growth, and make education savings easier. She has worked to repeal the alternative minimum tax and the marriage penalty. To give working families a boost, she has fought to make the $4000 college tuition tax deduction and the $1000 child tax credit permanent. To bolster our economy, Maria consistently supports tax credits to spur innovation and make it easier for small businesses to provide employees with health insurance.
Controlling the Deficit and Making Fiscal Responsibility a Priority
Maria opposes dangerous increases in our national debt that leave our children, and our children's children, paying far too much of the burden. Instead, she supports returning commonsense pay-as-you-go policy to prevent runaway spending. Requiring that most new spending and tax cuts be paid for, rather than simply financed with more debt, can help get our federal deficit and our economy back on track. There is no reason why our children and grandchildren should have to pay for reckless spending by Congress.
Promoting Affordable Higher Education
The best guarantee of a good, secure job is a quality education, and Maria is working to make sure every American can go to college without going deep into debt. Maria went to college with the help of Pell grants and understands the importance of affordable education to a strong economy. That's why she's worked to help families save for college, boost the tax benefits for American's facing skyrocketing tuition and increase the Pell Grant rate for college students.
Keeping America Competitive
To stay competitive in today's changing global economy, Maria knows America needs an aggressive national strategy that invests in the industries of the future, strengthens math and science education, and creates good jobs right here in the Pacific Northwest. To boost our economy, Maria joined a bipartisan coalition of senators calling for increased investment in research, development, and education to help America maintain its competitive edge. The Protecting America's Competitive Edge (PACE) Acts would increase America's talent pool through higher education investments, incentives for innovation, and scholarships and fellowships for future scientists and teachers. The three PACE Act billsone focusing on education, another on energy, and a third on tax incentivesrepresent a comprehensive and coordinated approach to boosting innovation and creating high-quality jobs.
Strengthening Our Economy through Trade
Washington is the most trade-dependent state in the nation. Maria knows that by embracing trade we can create new markets for our products and cutting-edge technologies and delivering good solid jobs for years to come. She has pushed for new trade opportunities for Washington farmers and producers by opening foreign markets to their goods. In 2002 and 2003, Maria visited Cuba and met with a wide range of government officials. The meetings resulted in the first Washington state exports of apples, peas, and lentils to Cuba in over 50 years. Maria also visited Mexico to advocate that the Mexican government remove its existing trade barriers on potato imports, which had prevented Washington farmers from accessing the potentially lucrative Mexican market. Five months after her visit, for the first time Mexico allowed imports of Washington state potatoes. In October 2002, Maria negotiated with the British Columbia government to permit the sale of wine from eight new Washington state wineries, expanding Washington winery access by 40 percent.
Helping Launch a Washington State Biofuels Industry
Last October, Maria convened the Biofuels Business Collaborativea group of Washington businesses, farmers, investors, and fuel consumersto help create a strong Washington biofuels industry. Producing biofuels alternatives with Washington grown crops or woody material can help reduce fuel transportation costs and provide real competition at the gas pump. Maria also helped broker several agreements that will help jumpstart the Washington state biofuels market including a commitment by the Port of Seattle and its tenants to purchase one million gallons of biodiesel annually, working with officials from the Port of Grays Harbor and representatives from Seattle Biodiesel to develop one of the nation's largest biodiesel plants at the Port of Grays Harbor, and securing funding to help Puget Sound ferries use biodiesel.
Backing Small Businesses
As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Maria has worked to encourage small businesses. She believes we can make more loans available to America's small businesses and help them pool together to leverage purchasing power and deliver affordable health care to their employees. Small businesses also face significant challenges when seeking government business, but Maria believes they should have the opportunity to compete in a free and fair market, and has supported legislation to protect small businesses in the procurement and bidding process, ensuring they are treated equally.
Protecting Hard-Working Americans
Maria believes that the dedication of working men and women is what drives our economyboth here in Washington and across the nation. Because we owe them so much, Maria has fought to make sure that America's workers get the pensions and health care they have earned. She has worked to protect pension plans, and joined a coalition of senators earlier this year to propose a new health insurance program for America's small businesses. The Small Employers Health Benefits Program lets small businesses join together to leverage their purchasing power and make health care more affordable for their employees. By bringing businesses together, we can make health care security a reality for thousands of Washington workers.
Supporting Research and Development
Maria has consistently supported making the research and development tax credit permanent to foster the cutting-edge advancement needed to solidify our state's position as a global leader in innovation. By encouraging new research and development, we can create quality jobs here in the Northwest and keep our economy growing. Among many different initiatives to support the R&D tax credit, Maria is currently a cosponsor of the bipartisan Investment in America Act to make the R&D tax credit permanent and expand its use.
Encouraging Innovation in Aerospace
Maria knows that innovation and cutting edge technology are key to Washington's economy. That's why she worked hard to create a Center of Excellence for applied research and training in the use of advanced materials in commercial airplanes. Established at the University of Washington in 2003, the Center of Excellence coordinates research efforts and encourages the broader use of advanced structural materials, including composites and aluminum alloys, in future aircraft such as the Boeing 787.The Center's launch coincided with Boeing's decision on the location of the Dreamliner production line and helped Washington state secure over 1,000 jobs. A two-year degree program in advanced composite technology at Edmonds Community College is helping to train area workers for the Dreamliner. The Center capitalizes on Washington's technological know-how to expand the region's research and development capabilities, helping to ensure that Washington remains a global leader in aerospace innovation.
Fighting Airbus Subsidies
Maria has been an outspoken critic of the European Union's "launch aid" subsidies, which is risk-free, low-cost government funding for the development of new lines of aircraft. The company only needs to repay the loans if the new product succeeds. This means Airbus remains unfettered by marketplace realities, while American companies must assume realistic levels of commercial risk. Maria was an original cosponsor of a bipartisan, Senate-passed resolution opposed to the launch aid and requesting WTO action. She continues to speak regularly on the issue.
Maria believes nanoscience is a powerful and growing technology. As a chief supporter of the Nanoscience to Commercialization Institutes Act of 2005, Maria is working to secure important funding for the Washington Nanotechnology Initiative. With the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, which became law in 2003, she helped deliver key funding to nanotechnology programs nationwide.
Keeping Energy Costs Down for Businesses
As a member of the Senate Energy Committee, Maria has fought successfully alongside her Pacific Northwest colleagues to preserve our region's system of cost-based hydropower, blocking repeated administration efforts to raise the rates of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). This year, she joined with her Northwest colleagues to block the administration's latest attempt, which would have reversed a decades-old BPA policy of using revenue from surplus power sales to lower electricity rates for consumers in the Northwest. Our system of cost-based hydropower is crucial to continued economic competitiveness.
Extending Lifelong Learning and Job Training
Maria believes that learning doesn't stop at the end of high school or even college. Americans ought to be able to have access to lifelong learning. In 2005, she led the fight to restore funding for Adult Basic Education programs to assist adults with completing their GED, English proficiency classes and literacy education - programs like WIA and adult basic education. Maria cosponsored the Employee Educational Assistance Act, to make the tax exclusion for employer-provided educational assistance permanent and extend tax free the same assistance for graduate studies. Maria has also worked to make sure that job training is extended to more Americans. She's introduced bills to support innovative projects that use technology to deliver training services, as well as to provide critical information about training opportunities and supportive services. A bill she wrote would help incumbent workers by providing funds for local workforce boards to convene education institutions, business and industry and supportive service agencies to assess industry-specific skills gaps and develop strategies to address these gaps.