House Republicans unveil employees’ package to get people working again in Washington
'Made in Washington' plan emphasizes solutions to reduce employment costs, clear the way for job creation, provide lower energy costs, and ensure affordable, accessible health care
With unemployment in the state the highest in more than two decades, Washington House Republicans said today they are committed to making job creation in the private sector their highest priority during the upcoming legislative session by proposing an employees' package of legislation entitled “Made in Washington.”
The 2010 session begins next Monday, Jan. 11 in Olympia. House Republican Caucus Chairman Rep. Dan Kristiansen says the greatest crisis in Washington is the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, which has been devastating to many families across the state.
“We cannot solve our state's budget problems with any sustainability until we get people working again. House Republicans believe we need to look beyond Olympia to the real crisis faced by everyday people across the state of Washington. More than 320,000 people are out of work. That's a crisis,” said Kristiansen, R-Snohomish. “Our Made in Washington plan proposes simple policy changes that could be adopted during the 60-day session that would preserve and create jobs through regulatory relief, and ease families' expenses through health care reform and clean, low-cost energy solutions.”
“Putting people back to work is not only imperative to helping families, it is the responsible way for the Legislature to respond to our current budget challenges,” said House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis. “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. Simply raising taxes has the opposite effect. It puts a greater burden on our economy and on families who are already struggling.”
The Made in Washington plan is composed of four core components:
1. Put people back to work by reducing employer costs.
- Reform the state's costly and complex workers' compensation system.
- Protect unemployment insurance improvements passed into law during the 2009 session.
2. Empower Washington employers to hire people by eliminating burdensome and costly regulations.
- Require agencies to issue decisions within 90 days or the permit is automatically granted.
- Require new state agency rules be reviewed by the Legislature before being adopted.
- Put burden of proof in agency rule disputes on the agency instead of the citizens.
- Give employers 48 hours to correct mistakes before an agency can issue a fine or penalty.
“Too often, state government acts as an obstacle to job growth, instead of working as a partner with those who want to invest in our economy and create jobs. House Republicans believe we can enact bold reforms that will control the cost and eliminate the regulatory hurdles that stand in the way of creating jobs. We want to make 'Made in Washington' mean something again,” DeBolt said.
“The first part of our plan is not just for employers, it's really about employees. These proposals would help to put people back to work. Streamlining the permitting process gets that framer, electrician, roofer, plumber, or that concrete worker back out on the job. It allows those lenders to free up the money to help small contractors start projects or to provide loans for home buyers. It provides that economic certainty needed when the approval process has been shortened from a few years down to a few months,” said Kristiansen. “For projects, goods and services to be made in Washington, it requires employees – people who live and work here. In all sectors of the economy, we need to remove government as an obstructionist and allow jobs to be created. When we do that, Washington will experience a more rapid recovery from this recession, which in turn will help every citizen to enjoy a better quality of life in our state.”
The final two components would help to ease costs for employees, employers, families and individuals.
3. Increase affordable, renewable energy supply
- Recognize hydropower as a renewable resource.
- Adopt policies that will lower energy costs for employers and families, and increase our energy supply to give job providers a competitive advantage.
- Reduce red tape and provide incentives for constructing new energy cogeneration facilities that provide clean, low-cost power.
“We've got to avoid policies that increase costs on families and could hurt jobs, such as the federal and state cap-and-trade proposals, or legislation that would limit the miles people could drive. Instead, we should focus on those policies that lower costs for families and provide for job creation. The first step is recognizing hydropower as renewable, because it would stabilize the utility market and lower energy costs,” said Kristiansen.
4. Affordable accessible health insurance
- Create a flexible 'core benefit' plan for employees.
- Allow consumers to choose health insurance plans across state lines.
- Prevent lawsuit abuse.
- Create an affordable 'core benefit' plan for young adults ages 19 to 34.
“Every type of insurance in Washington is based on a competitive marketplace, with the exception of health insurance. The policies adopted by this state to limit the sale of health insurance and the mandates requiring a 'Cadillac plan' have driven up costs to unaffordable levels and have hamstrung people's ability to buy the kind of health insurance they need. We need to build in more flexibility to allow people to buy health insurance based on their needs. The solutions we are offering would help employers, families and individuals, and would address many of the problems in the health insurance market that our state helped to create,” added Kristiansen.
Specific bills on each of the issues have been or soon will be introduced for consideration in the 2010 session.
“We believe Washington's leaders should be exhausting all resources and making every effort to attract jobs to our state and retain those precious family-wage jobs we already have. We know that when government gets out of the way, employers will create jobs. We also recogn
ize that new or higher taxes and fees will hurt families and destroy jobs. It's time to declare the state of Washington 'open for business' and invite existing employers to expand and new businesses to come to our state and create jobs. That's what our Made in Washington plan is all about, and we are prepared to do it during this legislative session,” concluded Kristiansen.
###Washington State House Republican Communications