Taylor opposes bill that would increase taxes on employers

The state House Friday passed a controversial unemployment insurance reform bill (SB 5963) that House Republicans vigorously opposed, arguing that as amended by majority Democrats, the (UI) measure would hurt employers and cost jobs.

The hours-long debate was at times emotional, with opponents asserting that Democrats had run roughshod over a promise they made earlier in the session to address the employer side of the unemployment system.

In February, the House voted 91-2 to temporarily increase weekly unemployment benefits. Republicans supported the increase with the understanding that there would be a bipartisan effort to help Washington employers by restructuring the UI rate system, the second highest in the nation.

As passed by the Senate, the UI measure was supposed to give employers a tax reduction. But over the strenuous objections of Republicans, it was amended to raise payroll taxes and allow people who voluntarily quit their jobs to still collect jobless benefits. Washington already has the fifth highest jobless benefits in the U.S.

Rep. David Taylor, a former director of Kittitas County planning and development services, argued against the measure, which he said threatens hard-pressed Washington employers already struggling to stay alive in a severe economic downturn.

“I have spent the last 15 years of my career helping people locate businesses in Central Washington. The one consistent message that I heard is that we need good family-wage jobs to keep our children interested in staying here, working and living in our communities,” said Taylor, R-Moxee. “We had some success, and I’m disheartened today to see the possibility that one vote – passage of this bill – would undo everything we did in 15 years.”

Taylor, in his second week as a House member, said he was troubled by the majority party’s decision not to honor its commitment.

“Where I come from, we judge people by their word. And what I have learned in the 11 days that I’ve been here in Olympia is that my word is a bond, the one thing that I cannot afford to lose,” he told House members. “What we do here has consequences. What we do here impacts the workers in our districts. At the end of the day, when this vote is taken, our citizens are going to know who they can trust, who they can count on, and who is going to keep their word.”

The agreement made and then broken, he said, casts a cloud over the state’s economy, jobs and the legislative process.

“Whoever is careless with truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters. That was the view of Albert Einstein,” Taylor said. “I would encourage my colleagues here today to reflect on those words before casting a vote.”

The bill passed the House 53-45. It now goes back to the Senate for consideration.

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For more information, contact: Bill Taylor, Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7074

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov