Wash. Senate Democrats Tout Long-Term Jobs Agenda - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Wash. Senate Democrats Tout Long-Term Jobs Agenda

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Senate Democrats on Tuesday promoted a package of bills aimed at bringing more skilled jobs to the state.

Speaking at a news conference, two lawmakers highlighted a wide swath of proposed legislation encompassing everything from helping military spouses find work to attracting investment in aerospace technology.

"There's no silver bullet to do an economic development," said Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor. "It's a lot more like silver buckshot."

Broadly, the measures are intended to help train the state's workforce, improve infrastructure and promote investment and entrepreneurship  priorities identified by the state's Economic Development Commission in a 2009 report.

Rather than focusing on recruiting companies to Washington, the commission's plan calls for attempting to grow companies from within the state.

"The fact that these legislative pieces have found alignment is very encouraging," said Egils Milbergs, executive director of the commission. "These are initiatives that are oriented to a
long-term strategy."

Some of the bills are targeted at easing regulations for business. One would allow companies to file most paperwork with state agencies electronically. Another makes it harder for agencies
to tack on violations to companies already facing penalties.

Others are focused on rewarding success. One bill would offer tax incentives for companies that make more money after forming industry trade groups for tasks including product marketing, quality control and worker training.

Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, emphasized that a well-trained labor force is essential for Washington to compete for high-paying jobs.

"We don't have a jobs shortage in Washington state," said Kastama. "We have a skills shortage."

The state's Employment Security Department reported that there were 60,000 unfilled jobs both skilled and unskilled  in Washington state last April.

All of the bills highlighted Tuesday are still alive and many stand a good chance of being passed into law, said Kilmer.

"As we laid out in our own `Roadmap to Growth' jobs plan earlier this year, Senate Republicans support proposals that will create stability and predictability and reduce costs for
Washington's employers," Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, said in an email.

      
      (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)
   

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