Politics & Government

Plan: Business tax credit

Plan: Business tax credit Senate Democrats proposed legislation Tuesday that would offer a business-occupation tax credit to small businesses that create jobs. The plan also would retrain up to 6,000 workers for high-demand fields such as nursing.

The Democrats, led by Majority Leader Lisa Brown of Spokane, declined to put a specific number on the total jobs their plan might create.

But backers say the tax credit, which would cost more than $5 million a year in lost revenue, could generate 2,500 new jobs if it were fully used.

Those ideas to spur hiring are in addition to an $861 million construction-bond proposal from House Democrats, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s package of regulatory and tax changes, and minority Republicans’ call for tax and regulatory relief.

“It really is more of a strategy than a package of bills,” Brown said at a news conference where she outlined a plan to encourage worker retraining for jobs of the future and to encourage start-up businesses to hire in the fields of green energy and research.

She was joined by other Democrats, two workers who are being retrained, and a Federal Way entrepreneur whose small start-up company makes filler fibers for paper-making and to capture atmospheric carbon.

Vijay Mathur of G.R. International said the tax credits would help him add jobs as his company expands its work and adds plants in up to three communities around the state.

House and Senate Republicans are skeptical of the Democrats’ approach. They have called for an easing of regulations and tax relief for businesses crushed by rising taxes for unemployment insurance and workers compensation.

Republican Sen. Joseph Zarelli also has proposed an increase in the dollar threshold that triggers payment of B&O taxes.

Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt said he had received no indication that any of his minority party’s ideas would be considered.

“It looks like their job creation plan is to wave Forbes magazine in front of everyone,” Hewitt said, referring to a Forbes magazine report cited by Democrats that Washington has the nation’s second-best business climate.

“Everything we heard from everyone in the business sector is their unemployment taxes are going up, or they think they will, and workers comp is going up 7.6 percent.”

Gregoire has proposed a cluster of bills, including tax breaks for businesses that create jobs, and House Democrats have a plan to create 38,000 jobs over six years by asking voters to approve an $861 million bond proposal.

The two chambers now must sort out these ideas. The bond is controversial because it would ask voters to exceed the state debt limit, but it would pay for hundreds of energy-efficiency projects at public schools and colleges.

It also would save an estimated $190 million a year in school and college energy bills, and no general fund money would be needed to pay the bonds for six years, according to Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, the sponsor.

The House sent that jobs bill to the Senate last week, and Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, said he wants to give it a hearing as Democrats focus on what has “the most traction” politically.

“I don’t think it’s an either/or,” Kilmer said, noting they want to address small business, infrastructure, energy efficiency and raising workers’ skills. “There is not going to be a silver bullet to solving our economic challenges. It’s going to look more like silver buckshot.”