Senate approves Brown’s ‘Reinvest in Washington Jobs Act’


Brown bill encouraging employers to hire members of the DD community also moves to House

Click the image to watch the floor debate on SB 6515.

Click the image to watch the floor debate on SB 6515.

Calling it one of the most ingenious ways ever to promote economic development, members of the Washington State Senate today passed the “Reinvest in Washington Jobs Act” by a vote of 45-2.

“We’ve heard a lot of talk about how the state should not be picking winners and losers,” said Sen. Sharon Brown, sponsor of the bill. “The Reinvest in Washington Jobs Act would take government out of that role and instead give manufacturers the choice: if you’re willing to invest back into your workers, your local business operations and your community, you can get some help with your business taxes in return.

“It allows employers to claim a business-and-occupation tax credit only after they have already invested in creating Washington jobs and increasing employee training, and adds accountability by allowing the state to measure the success or failure of their economic-development activities.”

Senate Bill 6515 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.

“I’ve been working for the past several months with mayors and economic-development professionals on this new approach, which improves on the traditional B&O tax-relief model,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “This exciting new economic-development plan was developed in collaboration with Kennewick Mayor Steve Young.

“For the first time, the state would be doing economic development in a way that gives employers ‘skin in the game’ so that they are reinvesting in Washington – in their business infrastructure and employees, tightening their bond with the communities where they are located. And through that reinvestment, we are getting a measurable way of helping them create jobs – which, of course, is what we really want.”

Brown said the pilot program will give the state the opportunity to test some of its economic assumptions.

“Thanks to the Washington state input-output model, we know that every dollar spent in manufacturing generates an additional 1.73 dollars in total economic activity, and for every million spent by a manufacturing facility, we see 7.2 jobs created,” said Brown. “This pilot program will allow us to measure those results in the real world.”

The bill passed with broad bipartisan support, with Democratic members of the body praising the idea during the floor debate.

“The way this bill is crafted is quite ingenious,” said Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline. “The business has to reinvest the tax preference in the business and create training programs and well-trained jobs for the business.

“[Sen. Brown] was able, quite frankly, to accomplish something that I was unable to do – in having accountability built into our tax expenditures.”

Organized labor also praised the bill, saying it would lead to better-trained workers and more opportunities for manufacturing jobs.

“Having access to local training programs like apprenticeships is the key that unlocks the doors of opportunity,” said Jimmy Haun of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters. “The difference between a job and a career is having that structure readily available. …I applaud Senator Sharon Brown’s bill; it will transform communities and bring American manufacturing jobs back where they belong.”

Also today, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 6057, another bill sponsored by Brown, which would encourage businesses to hire employees with developmental disabilities.

Both measures passed today are accounted for in the Senate supplemental operating budget and now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Click here to watch the floor debate on SB 6515.