Second District with highest unemployment claims; Wilcox says Legislature must get Washington working again

The Employment Security Department recently released unemployment benefit claims for the month of February. More than 6,800 people in the Second District were receiving unemployment benefits, making it the highest number among all legislative districts in the state.

Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, said he was very concerned for the people who can't find a job in his district. He is supporting a package of bills to address the 9.8 percent unemployment rate in Washington. Pierce County is currently experiencing 10.6 percent unemployment, while Thurston County has 8.9 percent of potential workers unemployed.

“Getting Washington back to work and balancing the budget are my top priorities this session,” Wilcox said. “As each bill comes before me, I ask myself, 'Will this help or hurt job growth?' We all want quality schools, safe communities and to take care of the most vulnerable citizens. A stronger economy is how we pay for these things.”

The package of legislation aims to do several things to address Washington's economy:

  • create private-sector jobs;
  • protect taxpayers; and
  • restore trust and accountability in government.

“The key to recovery is stability – consumer confidence to buy, employer confidence to hire, and the confidence of working families to achieve the American dream,” Wilcox said. “The Legislature must do everything it can to get Washington working again. There are several things we can do to open up opportunities for economic growth, as well as restore trust to the taxpayers who foot the bill of state government.”

Proposals in the package include:

  • House Bill 1156 – freezing all new rules and regulations created by state agencies until 2014, or when the economy recovers.
  • House Bill 1672 – doubling the small business tax credit to incentivize start-ups.
  • House Bill 1961 – requiring permit decisions to be made within 90 days, or the permit is granted.
  • House Bill 1150Seven-day grace period for small business to correct violations before fines are imposed. Small business violations are often inadvertent. This bill incentivizes regulatory compliance and demonstrates to investors that Washington welcomes small businesses and the contribution they make to our state's economy.

The 2nd District legislator said a proposal to reform the workers' compensation program would go a long way towards reforming government and better serving injured workers, employers and people who are currently working and paying into the system. Senate Bill 5566 was passed by the Senate and awaits action in the House.

“The current workers' comp system is failing everyone,” Wilcox said. “We have the highest rate of those who are permanently out of work after being injured. The average number of days someone is on time loss is 286 days – quadruple the time someone in Oregon is out of work after an injury. This is terrible for the injured worker and creates a system that is so expensive that it is killing job growth. I sincerely hope we can get a true reform package passed in Olympia by the end of this year's session so we can open up more job opportunities for the thousands in our state still searching.”

The 2011 regular session is scheduled to adjourn Sunday, April 24.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov