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Eye On Olympia

Posts tagged: business

Idaho continues to loom on Olympia’s radar…

Former state Rep. John Ahern was famous for floor speeches trotting out the specter of unhappy Washington businesses decamping en masse for Idaho.

“That great sucking sound you hear,” he’d warn, as Democrats rolled their eyes, “is business heading for Idaho.”

Ahern’s now gone, ousted by a Democratic challenger in November. Yet the issue clearly isn’t.

“Democrat bills send clear message to employers: Go to Idaho!” said a recent press release from Sen. Janea Holmquist, R-Moses Lake. She blasted several bills that she said would “rip the welcome mat away from our employers.”

Hogwash, say Democrats.

“I think Wa state is clearly very competitive when it comes to biz climate,” said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, citing studies that gave the state high marks. Part of being competitive, she said, is having a well-trained, well-educated workforce.

Brown also said Washington lawmakers are trying to help, such as by cutting unemployment insurance taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years.

“I think it’s kind of ironic that in a down economy, when we actually have a lot to be proud of in this state, that some legislators are kind of going around sounding a lot of negativity,” said Brown.

UPDATE: Good God. Rep. Joe Schmick just used Ahern’s old line again in a floor speech. It never ends.

U.S. News: WA tops for starting a small business…

Although there’s a constant “we’re great/we suck” debate on virtually all attempts to gauge Washington’s business climate, here’s the latest one: U.S. News and World Report gives the state high marks as a place to launch your company. Tops, in fact.

From the report:

1. Washington. The Evergreen State tops the list by coming in second on the New State Economy Index and fifth on the Small Business Survival Index. Washington is first among the states in steps toward energy efficiency and using more alternative-energy sources. It also has a highly productive manufacturing sector, signaling high wages and a tech-intensive economy. Washington leads the nation in value added per production hour as a percentage of the national average—the difference in value between inputs in the production process and the value of the units as finally sold. But in addition to these nonpolitical factors, Washington also has very low taxes, making the costs of growing a business quite low. It does not have its own income or capital-gains taxes, either personal or corporate.

The list ranked the top 7 states, in US News’ view. Idaho and Oregon? Sorry.

Hat tip: Northwest Republican.

UPDATE: Among those underwhelmed by the news: Richard Davis, with the Washington Alliance for a Competitive Economy. Davis looked at the underlying studies used by the magazine to create its list, and says the results are skewed, partly because Washington has no income tax.

Writes Davis:

Put the “7 best” article in the entertainment file. Combining a tech-centric index with a flawed small business measure does not yield anything like a “best place to start a new business.” Next week the Legislature convenes, with economic recovery the top agenda item. The fluffy “best places to start a business” story should not become a distraction.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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