When I hear the words “Made in Washington,” I think of the quality and craftsmanship of products and services in our state. I think of businesses trying to remain competitive, creating jobs and helping others be successful. Mostly, I think of hard-working employees toiling to provide quality products and who go home at day’s end feeling proud they have done a good job and provided for their families.
It seems we have taken for granted that businesses will always be ready to set up shop in Washington and there will be plenty of jobs to go around. That may have been the case a few years ago, but over the past decade we’ve lost focus of what “Made in Washington” really means. State government has continued to add unnecessary, burdensome regulations and taxes to employers and employees, and increased mandates that force families to pay more in health care and energy costs. It’s made it difficult for employers and employees to survive, even before this recession struck. But now, many businesses are failing, more than 320,000 Washingtonians are unemployed, and families are really struggling to pay their bills.
What is the response from the governor and majority party? They tirelessly recite a Forbes Magazine article that says Washington is a great place to do business, while simultaneously ignoring the real problems of people across our state.
We all want Washington to be a great place to do business. But we can’t get there when state government increases unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation rates against employers and employees at a time when they are struggling most. We can’t get there when state government is so worried about padding its own pockets with tax increases to close a $2.6 billion budget shortfall that it loses sight of the thousands of people out of work who can no longer provide for their families. We can’t get there when it forgets about those barely hanging onto their jobs.
My House Republican colleagues and I believe we need reforms during this 60-day legislative session that address the challenges of employees and their families in this recession. That’s why we’re putting the creation of private sector jobs as our highest priority.
Just before the session began Jan. 11, we unveiled our “Made in Washington” jobs agenda. Our plan is composed of four core components: • Put people back to work by reducing employer costs. • Empower Washington employers to hire people by eliminating burdensome and costly regulations. • Increase affordable, renewable energy supply. • Affordable, accessible health insurance.
The bills we will introduce focus on preserving employees’ existing jobs and creating new ones to get people in Washington working again. We believe that putting people back to work is not only imperative to helping families, it is the responsible way for the Legislature to respond to the state’s budget challenges. A strong economy makes people less reliant on government services and at the same time generates the revenue that helps us carry out the core functions of government.
In the coming weeks in this column, I will provide details about each of the plan’s components and how they would help employees, the unemployed, and their families. I will also explain how you can get involved so that we can make “Made in Washington” mean something again. Meantime, I invite you to review our plan from my Web site at: www.houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen.
State Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, represents the 39th Legislative District, and also serves as chairman of the Washington House Republican Caucus. He can be contacted at (360) 786-7967 or e-mail him and sign up for his e-newsletter at: www.houserepublicans.wa.gov/Kristiansen. His office address is: P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600.