Washington's residents are concerned about our weak economy and chronically high unemployment. In fact, our state's economy ranked 45th in the US in a recent CNBC poll (tied with Illinois). And our unemployment rate in July 2012 is the 15th highest in the country.
But instead of focusing on private sector job creation during the 2012 regular session, the Legislature focused their attention first on social issues that should have gone directly to the ballot for voters to decide.
Employers in our state didn't create this weak economy, but given the opportunity, they can help bring it back to life. The Legislature needs to give them that opportunity.
Private-sector job creation must be a top priority in 2013. Employers across Washington State are bound by high taxes, fees and burdensome regulations, which hinder economic growth and progress. We need our Legislature to address these restrictions that are holding back Washington's economic recovery.
Here is where the Legislature should start:
Place a moratorium on most new regulations and require that existing regulations are reviewed periodically to determine if they are achieving their intended objectives;
*Reform our workers' compensation and unemployment insurance programs to reduce costs to employers;
*Increase the small business B&O tax credit and provide a two-year B&O tax exemption for new or expanded businesses;
*Eliminate all state health insurance mandates not required by federal law; and
*Streamline the state's permitting process to remove barriers for small businesses looking to expand or locate in Washington.
The long-term solution to our state's budget crisis is getting people back to work. When people are employed, they spend money, which in turn provides more revenue for state and local governments to fund education, transportation, public safety and other critical public services.