Washington state received some great news this week when the Air Force awarded a $3.5 billion initial contract to Boeing for the production of 18 next-generation aerial refueling tankers.
As the lead legislator for the House Republican Caucus on economic development issues, I was overjoyed by the announcement. The first eighteen planes are to be delivered by 2017 and will be built in Everett. This decision by the Air Force means more than 11,000 direct and indirect jobs for Washington state and more than 48,000 across the nation.
This is a great victory for our brave warfighters, American taxpayers, our state's economy and the hardworking men and women of Boeing and Washington's aerospace industry who build the best planes in the world. This contract represents a thirty billion dollar investment in our economy here in Washington and around the nation.
It's important to remember that our aerospace sector in Washington consist of more than 650 companies across the state, and employs more than 80,000 people. Boeing's announcement will have a significant ripple effect through our economy.
Not only in aerospace, but in every industry sector in our state, the same issues are identified as barriers to growth and job creation. In Olympia, my colleagues and I are focused on saving and creating private-sector jobs and protecting taxpayers. Washingtonians want and need jobs that provide for their families and offer hope and opportunity. The legislature must be focused on real solutions that will improve our business climate and create certainty for employers – both in taxes and regulations. Here are just a few of the policy solutions we introduced and are focused on to get Washington working again:
- House Bill 1091 – Unemployment Tax Relief and Reform – would create jobs by protecting employers from dramatic unemployment insurance tax increases. (Rep. Cary Condotta) signed into law
- House Bill 1150 – Assisting small business – would allow a business seven days, instead of two, to comply with an agency before they can issue a fine or penalty (Rep. Norma Smith) passed out of House Ways and Means Committee, awaiting possible vote on House floor
- House Bill 1151 – Cutting government red tape – would require that regulations drafted by an agency have specific statutory authority. (Rep. Norma Smith)
- House Bill1156 – Rulemaking Freeze – would create jobs by putting a freeze on new rules or regulations by state agencies until 2014, or when the economy recovers. (Rep. Ed Orcutt)
- House Bill 1388 – Addressing costly building code changes – would prohibit implementation of new energy building codes until April 1, 2012, giving the construction industry a chance to get back on its feet again. (Rep. Bruce Dammeier)
- House Bills 1964 and 1872 – Workers' compensation reform – together, these bills would modify the definition of occupational disease for purposes of industrial insurance to require that the disease arise out of and in the course of the particular employment and meet other criteria; limit the time for filing occupational disease claims; and authorize voluntary settlement agreements regarding any or all aspects of industrial insurance claims under certain conditions. (Rep. Cary Condotta)
While the headlines are focused on the revenue shortfalls in the operating budget and what actions should be taken, we who serve on Capital Budget are also facing daunting challenges to maximize the investments needed in infrastructure around the state. Since December, the forecast estimates of how much we will have available have varied dramatically. This calls for intense 'drilldown' on policy areas that have been historically funded such as school construction, as well as newer categories of capital expense. With more than a billion dollars swept by the majority leadership in the past four years from dedicated funds in the capital budget, the consequences have been devastating to ongoing community needs throughout our state. Let me illustrate with some of the major dedicated fund accounts which were swept to backfill the operating budget:
Public Works Assistance Account 509.2 million
Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account 21.1 million
Local Toxics 177.8 million
State Toxics 55.1 million
The loss of these dollars put critical infrastructure on hold, and more importantly breeched the public trust. It must be restored.
I have been involved in countless meetings with the departments who have oversight in areas such as school construction, natural resources, affordable housing, city and county infrastructure and other critical components of our state's infrastructure to insist on accountability and transparency. Every dollar of a reasonable bonding capacity must be leveraged to ensure that projects are of statewide significance, and are prioritized to meet our constitutional duties, and maximize our investment while putting people to work. The resulting negotiations impact everything from a local school district building project to better management of our public forest trust lands in Washington state. Please contact me with your suggestions and input on these important issues.
District Office Day
I think it is really important during this difficult legislative session in Olympia to meet with, and hear from as many of you as possible.
I would like to invite you my district office on Saturday, March 12, anytime from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please drop by for an informal discussion on any issues or concerns you have or that are before the Legislature. Coffee and pastries will be provided. Our district office is located at 22 Front Street N.W., Su
ite C, Coupeville, WA 98239. It is on the water side of the Windjammer Gallery. Please call the Olympia office at (360) 786-7884 or e-mail me at email@example.com to let me know if you are going to attend so we can plan accordingly.
As always, thank you for reading my email update. I look forward to your continued input on the issues of importance to you. Have a lovely week.