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GOP: Don’t hold non-partisan jobs bills hostage

OLYMPIA (Feb. 29) — Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt (R-Walla Walla) commended the bipartisan supplemental capital budget proposal released by Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette (R-Wenatchee) on Tuesday. But he has urged his Republican colleagues in the Senate to withhold their support for this Infrastructure Jobs legislation “until some of our major concerns about the Senate Democrats’ operating budget are resolved.”

In response, Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson issued the following statement today:

Yesterday, Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt suggested to his caucus members that they consider delaying the infrastructure jobs bill until they can reach agreement with the Democrats on some major reforms in the operating budget. While we recognize that politics is the art of compromise, we would respectfully ask Senator Hewitt not to hold the jobs bill hostage over long-held disagreements between the parties.

Beyond the halls of Olympia the jobs bill is non-partisan. People want to work. They want to feel some economic security. They certainly don’t want to see politicians bicker to a stalemate.

Last year, business and labor came together to form a jobs coalition that has lobbied for a $2 billion infrastructure package. We looked at the infrastructure bond measures passed during Gov. Dan Evans’ administration and thought, “Why can’t we at least match what they did in the 1970s?” At that time, both parties rose to the occasion of creating jobs to help our economy, both workers and businesses, through an ugly recession. The “Great Recession” of 2008 is far worse than any economic crisis since 1930s. As a result, our business-labor coalition recognized:

1.  We can’t accept such high unemployment rates four years after the start of the recession.

2.  The Legislature has the opportunity to create up to 25,000 jobs, construction and other jobs, and bring the unemployment rate down a full percentage point.

3.  The construction industry has a disproportionately large impact on our economy and on our general fund revenue streams. Therefore, by investing in priority projects now, we not only put people back to work and create economic growth, but we also grow revenue into the state general fund.

4.  By investing in priority projects, we can strengthen our overall economic recovery.

We had hoped that the infrastructure package could have been passed in January so as not to miss any of the construction season. As it is, we are late. Let’s not miss the opportunity to do something positive altogether.

The Washington State Labor Council — the state’s largest union organization that represents the interests of more than 400,000 rank-and-file members in the state — has joined with the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council and the Associated General Contractors is supporting the Infrastructure Jobs legislation.

For more information about the Infrastructure Jobs legislation, see the following articles at The Stand:

House jobs bills would ‘jumpstart’ economy (Feb. 24)

‘Voices of Unemployed’ call for Infrastructure Jobs Bond (Feb. 13)

Sen. Kilmer’s plan: ‘Ingenious job creation in hard times’ (Jan. 31)

‘Jobs Now’ bill gains steam in Olympia with project lists (Jan. 26)

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