With state lawmakers adjourning their third special session of 2017 without a vote on the two-year capital budget, business groups have voiced their frustration over the holdup.
The Association of Washington Business, in particular, was swift to offer a rebuke, shining the spotlight specifically on what it viewed as slights to rural Washington business.
“It’s extremely disappointing that lawmakers met for three special sessions and a record 193 days and still fell short in their support for rural Washington by failing to agree on a fix for the Hirst water rights decision, failing to approve a capital budget and failing to override the governor’s veto of tax relief for manufacturers,” said Kris Johnson, president of AWB.
“Taken together, the message these actions send is that rural Washington, which is lagging behind the economic boom in the central Puget Sound region, is not a top priority, and that’s unfortunate.
After the special session ended, Gov. Jay Inslee criticized Republicans for using the Hirst water rights decision as leverage during the now-crumbled budget talks. But AWB criticized the Governor once again for his own actions in vetoing tax relief for manufacturers in the state.
“Despite the needlessly lengthy sessions, we were pleased last month to see lawmakers reach bipartisan agreement on a budget that made historic investments in K-12 education and provided much-needed tax relief for small manufacturers across the rural regions of our state,” said Johnson.
“By choosing to veto the tax relief measure, which passed the Legislature with a bipartisan supermajority in both chambers, the governor missed an opportunity to provide meaningful help for rural Washington’s economy.
“Today’s adjournment of the third special session marks three additional missed opportunities to improve rural Washington’s economic health:
“Failing to fix the Hirst water rights decision leaves rural land owners and farmers in limbo, with an uncertain future, unable to move forward with building projects.
“Failing to approve a capital budget means that construction projects throughout the state will be delayed, including new classrooms for public schools.
“Failing to override the governor’s veto of the manufacturing tax relief means that approximately 10,000 small- and medium-sized manufacturers will miss an opportunity to make needed investments in their operations, investments that would have contributed to a healthy economy.
“The state can and should do all it can to lift up the economy in every corner of the state. Even today’s unemployment data illustrates that while the central Puget Sound region and a couple of other pockets around the state continue their economic boom, many parts of rural Washington are still waiting for any sign that the recovery will expand to reach their towns and communities.”