Businesses plan support of initiatives

Doubt and confusion are hurting the national economy and could undo efforts to get Washington voters to pass business-friendly initiatives on the November ballot, the state director for the National Federation of Independent Business said Monday in Spokane.

Patrick Connor said business groups will be running advertisements and creating online videos to support eliminating the government monopoly in workers’ compensation insurance, repeal sales taxes on candy and bottled water, and restore a requirement that two-thirds of legislators must approve a tax increase.

Two videos aired at a Small Business Summit at the Davenport Hotel – “Stop the Monopoly” and “The Only Grocery Store in Town” – that raked the state Department of Labor and Industries’ management of the workers’ comp system.

Washington is among the last states that does not allow competition from the private sector for workers’ comp, Connor said, despite ongoing premium hikes here while premiums decrease elsewhere. Initiative 1080 would allow private insurers into the Washington market.

He said NFIB members overwhelmingly support I-1100, the “Costco initiative,” which would break up the state monopoly on liquor sales. But a bare majority opposes I-1105, which would replace the state distribution system with another controlled by a handful of licensed distributors, he added.

The poll of 8,000 NFIB members also showed that 79 percent support repeal of the new sales taxes, and oppose Referendum 52, which would use ongoing revenues from the tax on bottled water to fund $505 million in weatherization efforts.

Connor said the state would get $1 in weatherization for every $2 in debt service.

He said members’ opposition to I-1098, which would institute a state income tax on high earners, is so obvious they were not polled.

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