Business leaders from eastern King County were looking for answers to Washington’s budget woes as they met over breakfast Jan. 8 with state legislators. The answers were short in coming.
“We have no idea what’s going to happen with the budget,” Rep. Ross Hunter told the gathering of East King County Chambers of Commerce. The state is on a roller-coaster ride, he said, and it has yet to hit the bottom where “you get pushed into your seat.”
Greater Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce was among the groups that were represented at the meeting. Others were from Bellevue, Bothell, Issaquah, Newcastle, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Snoqualmie Valley and Woodinville.
Maple Valley-Black Diamond is a new member of the East King County chambers coalition. The combined group’s legislative agenda for 2009 is available online at www.eastkingchambers.org.
A panel of legislators at the meeting in Bellevue included Rep. Glenn Anderson, whose 5th District constituency includes Maple Valley.
In response to a audience question about corporate tax breaks, Anderson offered the option of a flat corporate business tax to replace the B&O tax “that puts a cap on the ability of small businesses to grow into medium-sized businesses.”
Anderson was adamant that any change include a prohibition of a personal income tax.
The 105-day session of the Legislature began Jan. 13, and with it comes the problem of dealing with a projected budget deficit of about $5.7 billion.
Anderson said that education is the paramount duty of the state, and “we have to invest now in K-12.”
Hunter noted that while the governor’s budget “only cut K-12 by 5 percent,” it’s likely that the actual deficit the Legislature will have to deal with will be $2 billion worse.