Opinion editorial by Reps. Joel Kretz and Shelly Short: Job creation is solution to turning around state’s economy

By Reps. Joel Kretz and Shelly Short

As representatives that serve some of the counties with the highest unemployment rates in the state, we believe that instead of wasting time in the Legislature on social issues, we must focus on policies that get Washingtonians working.

We continue to believe that a good-paying, private-sector job is the best social service the Legislature can support. House Republicans have introduced common-sense, pro-jobs legislation for several years.

For example: We believe that streamlining project permitting is a key element to growing our economy. House Bill 1236 would require agencies to make a permit decision within 90 days or the permit is automatically granted. This is critical to putting people back to work, particularly in our beleaguered construction industry.

Another proposal, House Bill 1619, would suspend the requirements under the costly Growth Management Act (GMA) in counties with persistently high levels of unemployment. There are struggling local governments that need relief from the GMA, not only to save the money, but also to focus their attention and limited tax collections on economic development.

Tax certainty is always a top priority for businesses in Washington. Not knowing what kind of tax hit they may take year to year is dampening their enthusiasm to expand operations. House Republicans have proposed putting the two-thirds requirement to increase taxes, or the provisions of Initiative 1185, into the state constitution. House Joint Resolution 4206 fits in with what voters want. The measure passed with 64 percent of the vote statewide and a whopping 75 percent in the 7th District.

Regulatory certainty is also a huge issue for employers. With hundreds and thousands of new rules every year, employers have to scramble to keep up. They end up spending time and resources complying with new rules and regulations instead of focusing on expanding operations and hiring new employees. House Bill 1163, the Regulatory Freedom and Accountability Act, would reduce the number of new rules coming from state agencies. It would also make the rulemaking process more transparent and hold the agencies accountable for their actions.

These are some simple fixes that will begin to restore business’ confidence and encourage them to leverage capital to expand their operations in our state. Frankly, if we want to comply with the state constitution and treat education as the “paramount duty” of the state and fund it accordingly, we need to start passing policies that drive up individual incomes and get people back to work, generating the necessary tax collections.

Unfortunately, the current majority in the House would rather focus on new and expanded government programs instead of growing our economy through private-sector job creation.

We are pleased the bipartisan coalition in the state Senate has taken the opportunity to finally tackle the cost-drivers in the state workers’ compensation system and look at policies, mirroring what we have put forward, that get government out of the way of the private sector.

We remain concerned about the new governor’s plan to pick winning industries with your tax dollars over tried and true job-creating policies that encourage private investment and risk. We saw how well this same taxpayer-subsidized scheme worked in California with the failed Solyndra solar panel plant.

It’s time to get back to basics and do what we know works – knock down the government barriers that hold back private investment in our economy. Only when we rein in government and unleash job creators will we turn our state’s economy around in all counties.

You can read more about our jobs legislation at https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/our-solutions/jobs-economy/.

Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, serves as the deputy Republican leader in the House and can be reached at (360) 786-7988 or joel.kretz@leg.wa.gov. Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, is the lead Republican on the House Environment Committee and can be reached at (360) 786-7908 or shelly.short@leg.wa.gov.

State Representative Shelly Short, 7th Legislative District
427A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7908 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000