Time to clear the decks – business survival, getting people back to work must be focus
- Concerns about business climate cannot be ignored
- State should eliminate excessive regulation, cut taxes, and fix other hindrances to job creation
- WA State budget should be reduced to reflect current situation
OLYMPIA – As the state emerges from its coronavirus shutdown, fixing the state economy, retaining jobs and protecting public health need to be the state’s top priorities, says state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale.
Repairing the economic damage caused by weeks of inactivity is going to be the state’s biggest issue, Ericksen says in a letter to Sen. Reuven Carlyle, chair of the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee. Old agendas need to pushed aside, he says, and lawmakers must pay greater heed to concerns about the state business climate, excessive taxes and regulation, and state policies that have actively discouraged new industrial jobs.
“The COVID-19 response is wreaking havoc on our economy to such a massive degree that our committee cannot continue business as usual,” writes Ericksen, ranking Republican member on the EET committee. “We need to look at new and better solutions to help preserve and create a strong economy for the future.”
Ericksen offered his comments in response to a proposed committee work schedule that reflected pre-shutdown concerns. Lawmakers should wipe the agenda clean and give the new economic crisis their undivided attention, Ericksen says.
“The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the damage done by shipping American jobs overseas,” he writes. “We need to bring our jobs home and Washington’s legislature should start today fixing our failed system that makes it so hard to build a business here.”
Ericksen says the committee should put first priority on “tearing down the barriers to creating manufacturing jobs and eliminating the rules, regulations and high taxes that are driving companies out of Washington or preventing them from investing here.”
Ericksen cited the recent decision by Phillips 66 and Renewable Energy Group to abandon their proposed Green Apple renewable diesel plant in Ferndale, due to the state’s insistence on a lengthy, costly environmental review process, with no guarantee of approval. Similar official discouragement has led to the cancellation of $4.5 billion in proposed industrial projects in Washington over the last four years, costing the state 6,000 jobs.
Ericksen urges a special legislative session to deal with the crisis and its aftermath. Lawmakers will need to quickly make cuts to state spending to bring the budget in line with rapidly plummeting tax collections, he says.