Remember 1993

Twenty-five years ago, business took a beating in Olympia. The swing to the left in the 1992 general election was swift and potent. It drove higher costs to employers and more government regulations.

Twenty-five years ago, business took a beating in Olympia. The swing to the left in the 1992 general election was swift and potent. It drove higher costs to employers and more government regulations.

Warning: Today’s political winds are blowing in that same direction.

In the 1992 election, Democrats across America scored big wins promising a new health care system and bigger government. Bill Clinton upset George H.W. Bush for president and Congressman Mike Lowry knocked off Republican Attorney General Ken Eikenberry for governor.

Republicans, which had been the road block for Democrats, lost their slim, 25-24, majority in the Washington State Senate and saw their numbers in the House shrink to 33.

Between Lowry and Democrat legislators, employers got $1.3 billion in new taxes and fees, a hefty set of more costly government regulations and a whole new government mandated health plan which was to be the model for Hillary Clinton’s nationwide program funded by employers.

The onslaught prompted the Association of Washington Business (AWB) to hang a banner on the side of its building near the capitol reading: “It’s the Economy, Don’t Kill It!”

Fast forward to 2018.

Next legislative session the “majority caucus” consisting of 24 Republicans plus Democrat Tim Sheldon will be gone thanks to a special election earlier this month.

Democrat prosecutor Manka Dhingra won the race in the 45th district over Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund, a former Capitol Hill staffer. Dhingra’s victory puts Democrats firmly in command of a state that, according to the Washington Post “had been trending bluer, and will allow the party to pursue a progressive agenda that had been bottled up by Republicans.”

Washington’s Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mark Schoesler, believes our state’s voters benefited from having “checks and balances” inherit in a split legislature and warned that “fiscal responsibility is in jeopardy” with Democrats in full control.

Since becoming governor, Jay Inslee unveiled plans to raise $5.5 billion in higher taxes. That scheme also includes imposing a new tax on investor’s income, a new carbon emissions charge, and increases existing business and occupation (B&O) tax rates on services.

Higher taxes are troublesome for Washington businesses which already pay 58 percent of state and local taxes. According to the Council on State Taxation (COST), business owners paid $7,600 per employee in state and local taxes in 2015—- the sixth highest per employee tax burden in the country. The national average is $5,800.

In 1993 what hurt was the huge B&O tax increase, additional fees for state permits and additional costs of higher workers comp and unemployment insurance benefits—-all of which impacted our same checking accounts at a time when both families and businesses were struggling to make ends meet.

For those in service sector, the choice was either put a sales tax on services or watch your B&O tax go from 1.5 to 2.5 percent. That was like being asked if you wanted to be hung or shot by a firing squad. The result was still the same.

But Democrat leaders say a major tax plan, such as a new capital gains tax, is unlikely in the near future, but despite some of those same assurances, things moved fast in the 1993 legislative session resulting in higher taxes and fees.

The bottom line is Washington can’t afford another 1993. Costs actually matter more today than they did 25 years ago. World-wide competition is much stiffer and pennies make the difference between staying in business or closing shop and moving across state or international lines.

If things start getting out of control in Olympia, put up banners reading: “Remember 1993!”

Don Brunell, retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, is a business analyst, writer, and columnist. He lives in Vancouver and can be contacted at TheBrunells@ msn.com.

More in Business

Enumclaw’s QFC debuts home delivery service

The first order is free, but other orders will come with a charge.

Boeing’s venture into hypersonic jets | Don Brunell

The company’s come a long way since nearly crashing the company with its first attempt at supersonic flight.

Avoiding trouble while Tweeting | Don Brunell

Your social media can hurt you or help you when looking for a job.

Columbia River treaty talks too vital to ignore | Don Brunell

The United States and China are currently renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty.

Bellevue company patent infringement win gives small investors hope | Don Brunell

Until recently, our courts have been little help to patent owners.

Podiatrist opens Enumclaw practice

Go see Dr. Bock at 853 Watson Street North, Suite 100.

American giving has surpassed $400 billion | Don Brunell

“Americans’ record-breaking charitable giving in 2017 demonstrates that even in divisive times our commitment to philanthropy is solid.”

Cementing radioactive wastes could save billions | Don Brunell

According to a recent article in the Tri-Cities Herald, the first phase of the demonstration project, grouting three gallons of waste held in Hanford’s underground tanks was successfully completed last December.

Mining contaminated waters to increase copper supplies | Don Brunell

With worldwide demand for copper soaring and there is new pressure to open new mines, expand existing ones, and add ore processing capacity — all of which have serious associated environmental challenges.

GE’s tumble from grace | Don Brunell

General Electric, once the world’s most valuable company, has been topped by Walgreens.

Vintage items, gifts and more at new Enumclaw shop

Featuring an eclectic mix of merchandise, partners Tori Ammons and Melissa Oglesbee… Continue reading

Jetsons cartoon robots now reality | Don Brunell

In April, the U.S. Labor Dept. reported a record high 844,000 unfilled positions in the hospitality industry — which is one out of eight jobs available today.