Competitive aerospace industry helps all Washington employers, Smith says
An independent report citing serious national competitiveness challenges, shortfalls and opportunities in Washington's aerospace industry today sparked debate on what should be done to ensure a healthy business climate. Rep. Norma Smith, who serves on the informal legislative Aerospace Task Force, believes one major step could be taken tonight to help the industry.
“It's clear we have some deep historical advantages to having a vibrant aerospace industry in our state,” said Smith, R-Clinton. “However, we face serious challenges from other states that are aggressively courting our aerospace businesses with better labor policies, favorable tax rates and other incentives. We need a comprehensive plan of action to address the industry's areas of concern. One important step we can take tonight is to pass Senate Bill 5963, which would get our unemployment insurance rates in line with the cost of the benefits.”
Smith believes Senate Bill 5963, as approved in the Senate, should be given unanimous support tonight when it comes up for a vote. The vote, she said, is important for all employees and employers in Washington.
The original Senate measure is a delicate compromise between business and labor interests. The employer community agreed to support the weekly increase in unemployment insurance benefits authorized in House Bill 1906, with commitment from majority party members that the rate structure, which overtaxed businesses more than $2 billion, would be corrected without payroll tax increases through Senate Bill 5963.
Smith said the amendments to the bill proposed by House majority members would gut the compromise and add triggers that increase payroll taxes on employers. This would happen at just about the same time the state's economy is supposed to start an upswing, she said, which would stymie job creation and growth in Washington.
“The amended version of the bill would do nothing to instill the confidence our employers need to keep their doors open. Let's get the bill back to its original form and give every business in our state, including the aerospace industry, a bright signal that we got their message and we want them growing and creating jobs here – not in Texas,” said Smith.
The 10th District legislator added that the unemployment insurance rate fix should be our top priority today. The Senate bill is up for a vote in the House sometime this evening. And, Smith said, efforts will be made to strip out the House committee amendments.
“It's a critical conformity issue that creates a payroll tax rate structure that is balanced to ensure workers have benefits and employers aren't overtaxed,” Smith explained.
Smith advocates for a holistic remedy to Washington's declining business climate.
“Everything we do that harms the aerospace industry hurts every other business in Washington,” Smith said. “Creating and supporting family-wage jobs is absolutely critical in these economic times. We need to look at all the hurdles that hamper the ability of employers to retain and create jobs and grow their businesses.”
###Washington State House Republican Communications