Day after report outlines state’s poor business climate, House votes to make it worse

Raising costs on employers is wrong direction for Washington

Roll up Washington’s welcome mat to businesses and stand back for the next wave of unemployed people, Rep. Cary Condotta warned today after Senate Bill 5963, the unemployment insurance reform legislation, was gutted by House majority members.

“We had a deal, not among us legislators, but with the employers of this state, that we would do all we could to protect them and their employees’ jobs,” said Condotta, lead Republican on the House Commerce and Labor Committee. “We made a commitment to raise unemployment benefits for folks with the understanding that the other side of the equation, employer over-taxation, would be addressed. The Senate bill did just that until amendments raised payroll tax rates and added other perks allowing employees to quit their jobs.”

Debate on Senate Bill 5963 was scuttled around 12:15 a.m. Friday morning when House Democrats broke the agreement with employers and approved an amendment that could allow employees to quit their jobs and still collect unemployment benefits.

The measure was brought back to the House floor for amendments and deliberation this afternoon, where an additional amendment to put in place triggers to raise payroll taxes was approved.

“The irony is that the day after the governor rolls out her plan to make Washington more competitive and improve the state’s business climate, her allies in the House decide to raise business taxes and she’s nowhere to be found,” said Condotta, “Where’s the leadership in this state to stand up for our small employers who are struggling? It’s another nail in the coffin that could help local shops make their decisions to close and for Texas or North Carolina to get thousands of aerospace jobs.”

An independent study on Washington’s business competitiveness was released yesterday. It pointed out Washington’s high business taxes are one of the key negatives in retaining and luring businesses. Of the top concerns in the findings was that Washington has the fifth richest unemployment benefits and has the second highest employer tax rates in the nation.

“What part of the message was unclear?” wondered Condotta, R-East Wenatchee. “Raising payroll taxes on employers and allowing for voluntary quits are just part of the damage done to employers today. The other part of the damage is to the employees who are going to lose their jobs. Instead of acting to take one step to make us more attractive and keep the jobs we have, we raise taxes on our job-creators in the worst economy many of us have seen in our lifetimes.”

Condotta added that he’s never experienced the situation where an agreement was made, then broken like it was with the unemployment insurance bill that passed today.

The measure passed by a vote of 53-45. It will now be returned to the Senate for concurrence on the bill as amended today.

# # #

For more information, contact: Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer: (360) 786-7252


Washington State House Republican Communications