The “Reinvest in Washington Jobs Act” is one step closer to passage after receiving a hearing in the House Finance Committee this morning. Testifying in favor of the Senate Bill 6515 was Sens. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, and Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, the sponsors of the bill. They were joined by economic development experts and union representatives, who testified that the pilot program created by the bill would help increase manufacturing jobs in Washington.
“Currently, we’re picking winners and losers in this state,” Brown testified. “All of us as legislators have sat through many hours of testimony where we hear different industry sectors asking for B&O tax exemptions. So I thought, there has to be a better way to be equitable and fair, but yet incentivize businesses. I believe this bill achieves that objective.
“First of all, it requires businesses to have skin in the game. The exemption is not given until after a business has expanded. This is going to cause industries to self-select, and that’s really what we want to do. We don’t want us as legislators selecting – industry by industry, employer by employer – who gets tax relief and who doesn’t.”
As the lawmakers explained, the Reinvest in Washington Jobs Act would encourage job growth by creating a pilot program that would provide a B&O tax credit for a portion of the construction costs of up to five new manufacturing facilities, two of which must be located in eastern Washington. It would create the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Invest in Washington account and allow an employer to contribute all or a portion of their approved credit to the account to be used exclusively by the state board for supporting customized training programs, job skills programs, job readiness training, and workforce professional development, and to assist employers with state-approved apprenticeship programs for manufacturing and production occupations.
Chase testified that the bill is a “refreshing” new approach to economic development that business and labor, Republican and Democrats can all support.
“This is a refreshing approach to how we can actually help our businesses as they grow; it’s a good tool for mid-market businesses, because businesses that are ready to expand and grounded in our community are not the types of businesses that will go out of business in the first year,” said Chase, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee. “The thing that is so intriguing to me is that we actually know that, if we give this tax expenditure, we are getting something for the people of this state.”
All of those who signed up to testify on the bill signed up as “pro,” and support ranged from labor unions to representatives of the employer community.
One of those testifying today was Lori Mattson, President and CEO of the Tri-City Regional Chamber, the 5th largest chamber in the state, representing 1200 businesses in the region.
“I’d like to thank Sen. Brown and Sen. Chase for introducing this legislation,” said Mattson. “It’s time for a new approach to economic development, and this pilot program provides incentives for investments in Washington state and is an innovative way at looking at economic development. The bill would promote growth and attract new manufacturers to the state.
“The Tri-Cities is the fifth fastest growing community in the nation and would benefit greatly from this act.”
Jimmy Haun, Political Director for the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters testified that the bill would help increase training and education opportunities for workers, while increasing construction and manufacturing jobs in the state.
“I applaud Sen. Sharon Brown, Sen. Maralyn Chase and all those who have promoted this effort,” said Haun. “6515 is the kind of vehicle that could help transform local communities and return Twenty-First Century American manufacturing jobs back where they belong.
“Washingtonians will take pride in the day when they can buy local and American-made products.… This bill will create more construction opportunities for carpenters to build the facilities that produce products proudly made in Washington.”
“Every manufacturing job creates another 4.6 jobs in support,” said Mattson, “and in high-tech manufacturing, it’s sixteen jobs. This bill invests in the greatest asset we have – the American worker. It’s smart economic development.”
SB 6515 passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support, and Sens. Chase and Brown urged their colleagues in the House to send the bill on to the governor without delay.
“This is a great mechanism, and I’m not sure why we haven’t used it before,” said Chase.