Small-businesses provide opinions for state Legislature

A poll of Washington small business owners released Friday shows big opposition to a healthcare payroll tax and strongly confirms what is already intuitively known – small business owners are demanding that lawmakers freeze or cut spending, rather than raise taxes to close the ballooning state budget deficit.

Each year, the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s leading small business association, polls its members on issues vital to their survival as entrepreneurs at both the state and federal levels. NFIB/Washington was to center its lobbying positions on responses it received to five questions on the 2009 State Member Ballot when the new session of the Washington Legislature convened Monday.

When asked if the Legislature should provide catastrophic healthcare coverage to all Washington residents, funded by a payroll tax of 1 percent paid by employees and 3 percent to 5 percent by employers, 90 percent of respondents said “No,” only 4 percent said “Yes” and the remainder were either undecided or did not respond to the question.

Asked if the Legislature should prohibit employers from holding mandatory employee meetings about religious, political or labor organization issues, 67 percent said “No,” 22 percent favored such a prohibition, 10 percent were undecided and 1 percent did not respond.

Queried as to whether the Legislature should either freeze/cut spending or raise taxes to address the projected state budget deficit, 95 percent favored freezing or cutting spending, 1 percent opted to raise taxes, with the remainder undecided or not responding.

A question enquiring if policymakers should set up a review of the relationship between the state and tribal businesses, particularly in new areas of commerce in which tribes compete with nontribal citizens, drew an 85 percent “Yes” response, 8 percent said “No,” 5 percent were undecided and 2 percent did not respond.

The poll’s final question asked small business owners if the Legislature should increase the felony threshold from $250 to $750. Almost six in 10 (59 percent) said “No,” 30 percent voted “Yes,” 9 percent were undecided and 3 percent did not respond.

NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C., and all 50 state capitals.