MOSES LAKE — Gary Chandler has a message for Gov. Jay Inslee.
“Don't take away our opportunity to be competitive.”
The drive for 100 percent clean energy would deprive the Pacific Northwest of its competitive edge on power prices, and the governor's proposed $4 billion in new taxes would hit the state's small business people particularly hard, Chandler said.
“The economy is good, but the economy is starting to slow,” Chandler said. “Don't spend everything, don't tax everything.”
Chandler, a former state legislator and the vice president for government affairs at the Association of Washington Business, spoke last Thursday at the Grant County Economic Development Council's annual dinner, held in the ATEC building at Big Bend Community College.
The state legislature is currently too unbalanced in favor of Democrats, Chandler said. When the legislature is more evenly balanced, as it was prior to the 2018 election, the two parties “complement each other” and prevent the drift to the extremes, he said.
Democrats currently hold 27 of the state Senate's 49 seats, and 57 seats in the 98-member state House of Representatives.
While a booming economy has been able to generate a projected $50 billion in tax revenue for the state's next two-year budget, Chandler said the governor's proposed $54 billion budget includes a number of new taxes, such as a 9 percent capital gains tax, a 67 percent increase in business and operating taxes, and a real estate tax. And that could seriously affect the ability of smaller business to compete nationally and globally, he added.
Chandler said the House will likely pass the capital gains tax, though he expects that small business owners looking to build a business with hopes of selling it as their retirement nest egg will be hit the hardest.
“They say they're going after the 1 percent,” Chandler said. “The two richest men in the world live in Washington (Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos), and they don't pay taxes. Who are you actually going to hit?”
Chandler also said there need to be “multiple pathways” for young people to succeed in life that don't involve going to college. He also believes schools and employers need to make a greater effort to motivate school drops out and give them a “vision” for success through apprenticeships and internships.
He also said schools need to start as early as fifth and sixth grade to give kids a vision.
“They are our next work force,” Chandler said. “We as a business community need to step up. We need to get these kids on the shop floor.”
“We have the jobs in Moses Lake,” he said.
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.