Shared Business Priorities
for the 2013 Washington State Legislative Session
As we move into 2013, Southwest Washington continues its slow economic recovery. The partnership and support of Olympia is more important than ever to keep momentum towards full employment and a robust economy on the upward track.
As Olympia continues to wrestle with the budgetary challenges it faces on a statewide level, the legislature needs to minimize economic harm to municipalities, schools, and our other local economic entities. When cuts are made to localities, don’t leave them with unfunded mandates, and do not dictate how or when they occur. Let our county, cities, schools and other impacted agencies make the decisions on how and when to implement them.
As Southwest Washington struggles to emerge from its deepest and most persistent recession in half a century, our region’s competitive position increasingly rests on the cornerstone of a well-educated and technically competent workforce. Support education on all levels:
- Preserve Equalization funding for K-12 schools
- Preserve basic funding for community colleges and higher education. WSU-Vancouver students now pay 63% of cost of education (30% increase in past 18 months)
- Support enhancement of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in middle schools and high schools.
Clark County’s unemployment remains about 50% higher than the State of Washington as a whole. It is imperative that we develop a business and regulatory climate that supports the creation of new jobs. When recovery comes, we need to be ready to grasp opportunities quickly.
- Provide predictable and time-limited state-level permitting processes that protect the environment while also supporting job creation.
- Require state agencies to work with local governments and port authorities to pre-permit key sites.
- Retain and expand the job base through power policies that promote rational and stable rates.
- Retain current research and development tax credits, as well as the food processing and warehousing B&O tax credits. These are critical industries in SW Washington and the tax credits keep us competitive with Oregon.
- Retain funding for local economic development. The governor’s budget proposes a $2.5 million decrease statewide, coupled with competition for the remaining funds. This would cripple local economic development efforts at a time when they are most needed.
- Continue to support efforts to protect the social service safety mechanisms that affect local not-for-profit sector organizations.
We renew our request for the creation of a 2012multi-modal transportation investment package for the future that includes state highways, bridges, rail, city and county projects and improvements to transit, including, if necessary, a public referendum on such a package. Specific projects include:
- Support the proposed Columbia River Crossing (I-5 Bridge) project and advocate for its funding.
- Maintain the funding and schedule for southwest Washington transportation projects.
- Fund the West Vancouver Access Project that will create permanent private-sector jobs.
The business community of Clark County has provided a united voice and southwest Washington Legislators have been receptive and supportive. Southwest Washington has enjoyed successes because of the teamwork this region demonstratesin both the public and private sectors. We thank you for your continued support.