Opinion

Vote for those who support the private sector

Our state’s economic health relies on a thriving private sector. Not only must large companies such as Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks remain strongholds in Washington, but small businesses must remain sustainable, as well.

Therefore, it is crucial that in this upcoming election we elect government officials who will take into careful consideration the significant effect legislation has on the private sector in our state.

According to the Department of Revenue’s most recent data from 2009, small businesses — categorized as having less than 50 employees — make up 96 percent of all state-registered businesses, while their employees make up 46 percent of the state’s workforce.

Washington’s small businesses create two-thirds of the jobs in our state.

Yet the private sector is suffering. According to the Washington Policy Center’s most recent data, Washington’s small business failure rate is the second highest in the nation for the second year in a row.

Only 901,000 citizens tried to seek jobs in June 2010, while for the past seven years, that figure has averaged around 1.75 million.

This puts June’s performance at its worst since 1954.

This is mostly due to Washington’s atypical B&O tax on small businesses.

High taxes can make or break small businesses in their infancy, especially ones with lower profit margins. The ultimate reality is that if taxes on businesses are not simplified and lowered, fewer businesses will choose to locate in Washington state, meaning less job creation and a higher unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate in Washington has averaged 9.3 percent over the past six months.

A strong economy with thriving small businesses and a state government that has the best interests of the business community at heart attracts more people, jobs and businesses.

As Gov. Gregoire and our Legislature transform our state budget, the decisions they make will impact where businesses open their doors and where jobs are created.

In this mid-term election, we must elect individuals who understand the importance of a sustainable business community in our state, and who will pledge to create public policy with the health of our private sector in mind.

Erin McCallum is president of two nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations — Enterprise Washington and the Business Institute of Washington.

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