Inslee describes $122 million plan for jobs

He says a big resource for the state is its brain power

bshannon@theolympian.comFebruary 14, 2013 

Gov. Jay Inslee laid out a $122 million jobs plan Wednesday, outlining several pieces of his 2012 campaign’s “75-point jobs plan” meant to spur job creation in the Evergreen State.

The Democrat held a news conference at the Capitol to outline the proposals, which are heavy on tax breaks, streamlining permitting for businesses, and major capital investments in clean energy, including a research center for biofuels at Washington State University.

He also is pitching a slew of small-size education programs meant to train more skilled workers needed by the aerospace industry, part of a plan to “align” education with the needs of new or growing industries.

Inslee said the single best state investment for jobs and industrial development “is development of human intellectual capital.” He added that “what we have to sell in Washington is not always beneath our feet, but it’s between our ears and above our shoulders. And that is brain power.’’

The proposals, which a few lawmakers had heard about in a high-level briefing that lacked details, got a response from the Legislature that was more warm than cold. Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom, who leads a Republican-dominated Senate majority coalition, said that his caucus is “very much in agreement with a lot of the things he’s trying to do” in education.

But while Tom saw no real areas of disagreement with Inslee’s plan, he favors an approach that helps all businesses rather than the clean energy, biotech, aerospace and software sectors favored by the governor.

House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt of Chehalis said Inslee needs to hurry – given there is a Feb. 22 deadline for passing policy bills out of committees. “If he’s going to run out a 75-point plan, I’d like to see it soon,’’ DeBolt said.

But Senate Democratic Sen. Kevin Ranker of Orcas Island said Democrats “enthusiastically applaud Gov. Inslee’s efforts to set a course towards a cleaner energy future and the expanding jobs his initiatives will generate. We look forward to working with him closely to make sure the policies he laid out today become a reality.”

Other lawmakers said they also saw a few things they can work with Inslee on over the next 101/2 weeks of the session — including a streamlining of permits for business and a one-stop portal for businesses getting licensed.

One of the biggest pieces in Inslee’s plan is $20 million for tax breaks rewarding businesses that hire veterans, with up to $3,000 or 20 percent of wages covered.

As he outlined in his campaign, Inslee also wants a tradable tax credit for high-tech start-ups, new investments in the regional energy grid and electrical car-charging stations on more state highways from the Pacific Ocean to Spokane.

Inslee’s jobs plan would require new money for a significant share of its costs — $49 million from the state’s general fund and another $73 million from the capital or construction budget.

Of the capital investments, the largest is $50 million to improve the energy sector’s electricity grid and establish the alternative energy research center at WSU.

Inslee did not spell out where he’s going to find the new money.

He also did not put a figure on the number of jobs he hopes to create. Asked how soon his proposals could generate jobs, he pointed to the health care piece of his plan. Inslee said the simple act of expanding Medicaid under federal health reform could add 10,200 health care jobs.

The details

Gov. Jay Inslee’s jobs plan includes nearly $49 million in general fund outlays and $73 million in capital spending. The general-fund outlays include:

 • $20 million for tax breaks for businesses that hire veterans.

 • $8.1 million for business-occupation tax breaks of up to $2 million for high-tech research and development

 • $8 million for creation of a one-stop information source that would give businesses a tool to register, file taxes and track permits or other matters.

 • $6.25 million for academic programs, including a dropout prevention program for 500 students that links them to manufacturing jobs. Another concept puts 500 high school students into high-demand aerospace training programs.

 • $3.5 million for out-of-state spending to promote tourism.

 • $3.5 million to promote transit-oriented development, including vehicle-charging stations along state Route 101 to the coast and along Interstate 90 to Spokane. This proposal calls for another $18 million in capital outlays.

Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688 @BradShannon2

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