Opinion

Democrats’ jobs bill would cost taxpayers dearly

With more than 8,000 people unemployed in the 39th District, Republicans believe the legislative session should be focused on getting Washington working again. That’s why we have proposed our “Made in Washington” jobs plan.

Recently Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, wrote an article in which he discussed the legislative Democrats’ proposed “Jobs Act.” I’d like to take this opportunity to compare how Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature view the best way to put people back to work.

Dunshee’s Jobs Act proposes to temporarily increase jobs in the construction trades by energy retrofitting school districts, state colleges and universities and other public facilities. How would it pay for these new jobs? Through your taxes.

House Bill 2561 seeks to issue $861 million in general obligation bonds to pay for these projects (money the state would borrow) to provide temporary work. Because this bond issue would push the state beyond its 9 percent constitutional debt limit, voters would be asked in November to approve it.

What would it cost taxpayers to put a select group of people to work for 10 months? The bonds would be repaid over 25 years at a price of $1.5 billion. Our children and grandchildren would be saddled with this debt. Plus, it would jeopardize our state’s bond rating, meaning taxpayers would pay millions more to retire existing debt.

Dunshee’s bill is based on energy savings to help pay the costs, but his projected savings are inflated. When the Legislature passed the “High Performance Buildings” law in 2005, supporters claimed schools would save 30 percent in energy costs. That was not the case. Several school districts using the “green” standards were later documented to use more energy per square foot than those without the mandates.

What about an older school retrofitted now that would be torn down in five years to make way for a new one? Taxpayers would be paying 25 years for that energy retrofit even though it no longer exists. It’s akin to the Seattle Kingdome roof that taxpayers are still paying for 11 years after it was imploded to make way for Qwest Field.

I agree with my Democrat colleague that some ideas in Olympia about jobs are better than others. I think the Republican Made in Washington plan is the best one.

Our proposal is centered on reducing employers’ costs and excessive regulations. This would attract new employers and help existing employers free up resources so they can retain jobs and hire once again. We would do this by reforming our state’s expensive workers’ compensation system to reduce premiums, protecting employers from sharp unemployment insurance increases, streamlining the permitting process, and reducing energy and health care costs.

Our Made in Washington plan is a savings to taxpayers, not a cost. It does not discriminate against workers. It would put people back to work in all areas of our economy, not just construction. It’s not a temporary plan. It emphasizes helping our businesses grow long into the future and creating more jobs. Plus, it’s supported by employers statewide.

Remember that unlike businesses in the private sector, government does not create wealth. It consumes it. Every job paid for by the government (including the proposed Jobs Act) is actually paid by taxpayers who first earned that paycheck.

That’s the difference between the two jobs proposals. The Democrat plan would cost taxpayers dearly to put some people back to work for a few months. The Republican plan would reduce costs to put many people back to work permanently in the private sector.

Read more about our Made in Washington plan at www.houserepublicans.wa.gov/current-issues/made-in-washington/.

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