Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting Josh Roe as a Legislative Page. He is a ninth-grader from Rosalia High School and is the son of Trevor Main and Shannon Roe from Malden. Josh was able to deliver mail throughout the Capital Campus, deliver messages on the House floor, and learn more about the Legislature during his time in Olympia. Thanks, Josh! It was great to have you as a temporary member of “Team Schmick!”
I'm generally not a pessimistic guy. Those of you who know me well know that I don't like to rock the boat with large emotional swings based on circumstances within or beyond my control. In my worldview, the glass is usually much more than “half full.” So, when I say that Washington businesses will leave this state because of the policies enacted by the Democrat majority in Olympia, you know that I'm not being dramatic.
House Democrats passed their $755 million tax package in the early morning hours of March 9. I joined with all of my House Republican colleagues in voting against Senate Bill 6143, which contained 21 new and increased taxes including an increase in the cigarette tax, an increase in certain B&O tax rates for businesses, a tax on candy, gum, and bottled water.
Increasing the cigarette tax by a dollar-per-pack is enough to send people packing across state lines to make their purchases. And if you're going to go to Idaho or Oregon to buy your cigarettes, you might as well stock up on gum, candy and bottled water while you're at it.
I believe Idaho and Oregon will be thanking Washington for this proposal as it will benefit their economies and their employers more than ours. In fact, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter sent what was termed a “love letter” to businesses in Washington and Oregon, urging employers faced with rising taxes to move to “business-friendly” Idaho:
“We now are reaching out to hundreds of Oregon businesses, and will do the same with those in Washington if the legislature there follows Oregon's lead. What we can offer is a business-friendly State government, a highly qualified and motivated work force, and communities where people understand that while government cannot be the solution to their problems it can and must be a champion for their own solutions.”
I also have a problem with the idea of closing certain 'tax loopholes.' The term 'tax loophole' implies that some people in some industries worked the system and found a way to get out of paying a tax that they're supposed to be paying. But the truth is, these aren't loopholes, they're incentives. Many of them have gone through intense study and it's been found that we could increase business and infrastructure investment into our state if we made Washington more attractive to employers. In essence, they help maintain and create jobs!
Another tax increase being considered that would impact jobs in Washington and could increase gas prices by 3-cents per gallon is the hazardous substance tax in House Bill 3181. As proposed in the House, the tax would generate an additional $110.6 million from May 2010 through June 2011.
Unfortunately, there's nothing in this tax proposal that will help maintain jobs in this state. These are short-term gimmicks and the only lasting effects they'll have are negative – they are going to hurt struggling families and employers.
In my floor speech against the tax package, I repeatedly asked the question, “Are these tax increases going to help create jobs, or destroy jobs?” That has been my mantra all session long as I believe folks in my district and across the state just want to work – they want a job!
We're entering the final days of session, unless House and Senate budget writers can't agree on which of your taxes they should raise. There is already talk of a special session – at a cost of over $20,000 per day! This isn't going to help our budget situation.
There's still time for the Democrat majority to listen to the people. We can balance this budget without raising taxes if we embrace true government reform and look for additional efficiencies within all areas of the budget.
Thanks again to all who have contacted my office. I look forward to seeing you soon.