Washington state or ‘Peanuts R Us?’

Lawmaker stunned state would increase employer payroll taxes in tight economy after Boeing’s announcement


After a week-long debate in the media and among lawmakers about Boeing’s purchase of a manufacturing plant in South Carolina, Rep. Cary Condotta today was shocked to learn the state may be set to hit employers with higher taxes yet again.

The state Department of Labor and Industries is projecting a 15-20 percent increase in employer workers’ compensation rates for 2010.

“Any increase in workers’ compensation premiums may put the final nail in the coffin of Washington’s employers,” said Condotta, lead Republican on commerce and labor issues. “This state is already near the top in costs for workers’ compensation premiums. If Labor and Industries chooses to raise rates as it has projected, Washington is poised to move to the number one position as the most expensive state to operate in.”

The announcement came on the heels of Boeing’s purchase of a 787 parts and production plant in South Carolina. The news stunned state leaders, but House Republicans believe this is a long-lit signal that the company, and the many small employers who supply Boeing, are looking to flee the state for more employer-friendly locations.

“Washington has one of the most expensive unemployment insurance systems and tax structures in the nation, the highest minimum wage in the nation, and is now moving toward the top spot for the highest workers’ compensation rates in the United States. Basically, state leaders are shoving employees and employers out the door,” said Condotta.

The East Wenatchee Republican added that a healthy employer community is what keeps the state fiscally sound. Without large and small employers hiring and expanding, the state doesn’t have the revenue to pay for schools and other critical services.

“As a small-business owner, I understand why Boeing or any other quality business would be packing their bags,” said Condotta. “If the governor thinks she can win this battle to keep employers by comparing quality versus costs, then she should consult with the hundreds of top quality companies locating and operating in other states. Or, perhaps a few days in Michigan cities, like Detroit, will open her eyes. It is once again apparent Governor Gregoire’s and the Democrats’ ‘progressive agenda’ is the most regressive policy available.”

Condotta added the “progressive agenda” has tanked in every ill-conceived experiment from California to New Jersey.

“Yet our governor continues to march Washington down this dangerous road while the rest of the world is going the other direction. It’s time to put the brakes on and correct this state’s course before all we have left are the ‘peanuts’ the governor mentioned in her comments,” said Condotta.

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Washington State House Republican Communications