Sen. Sharon Brown, chair of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee, has made attracting employers to Washington and helping them create jobs her top priorities since coming to the Senate. On Thursday, the Senate passed her “Invest in Washington” jobs bill, aimed at encouraging economic growth and new manufacturing and construction jobs.
“This bill is aimed at creating jobs through a pilot program that would allow businesses to invest a portion of their tax liability back into worker development and job creation,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “The goal is to take the government out of the business of picking winners and losers, and allow businesses to self-select based on a desire to invest, build and create manufacturing jobs in Washington.”
Senate Bill 5112, which received a bipartisan 38-6 vote, would create a pilot program that uses a sales-and-use-tax deferral for investments in Washington job creation and economic development. Companies testing the program would be permitted to invest their business taxes into workforce-training programs that support manufacturing businesses in the state. The new policy is also supported in the Senate operating budget proposal.
“The bill would provide an incentive for businesses to invest in machinery and equipment for manufacturing projects by allowing them to defer taxes, which, once repaid, would go directly toward worker-training programs for manufacturing and production occupations,” explained Brown.
“It’s a win-win for the employer and the worker!”
Brown described what makes the idea so unique compared to how state government typically approaches tax relief and economic development.
“Under this proposal, the companies wouldn’t get any kind of deferral until after they had already made the investments,” said Brown. “So the state would first realize the benefit from that business expanding or locating in Washington.”
Phil Watkins, on behalf of the City of Kennewick, testified in support of the bill during its public hearing in January, telling lawmakers that this type of innovative thinking is critical to creating jobs in the Tri-Cities.
“Hanford-related employment in the Tri-Cities has declined over the last decade and will continue to decline as Hanford cleanup is completed,” he warned. “It is important for the economy of the Tri-Cities to diversify and do economic development. …Tools, such as [the Invest in Washington Jobs Act], are essential for us to continue having an expanding employer base and family-wage jobs.”
SB 5112 now goes to the House of Representatives and will be a part of the budget negotiations between that chamber and the Senate.