Massive tax and penalty increases, more restrictions in governor’s proposed budget and legislative agenda
NFIB is leading the fight to stop Gov. Jay Inslee’s 2021-23 budget and legislative proposals from devastating small businesses, but we need your help to be successful.
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NFIB opposes these elements of Gov. Jay Inslee’s 2021 legislative agenda:
- Unemployment insurance tax hike. UI taxes could more than double in 2021, and keep rising for at least three more years. One estimate shows businesses with no unemployment claims before the pandemic were paying about $44 per employee for unemployment insurance. These employers could see their rates jump to $230 per employee this year. If they had layoffs in 2020, their UI taxes could skyrocket to more than $1,000 per employee in 2021.
- Carbon tax. Despite being repeatedly rejected by voters and the Legislature, Gov. Inslee is proposing another carbon tax or “cap and invest” scheme that will increase fuel and energy costs. Updated cost estimates are not currently available; however, a 2017 bill to impose a $15-per-ton carbon tax was expected to cost taxpayers more than $1 billion per year according to state estimates.
- Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Speaking of repeats, the governor is again seeking to impose a low carbon fuel tax that increases costs and reduces automobile performance, while doing nothing to meaningfully impact global climate change. The governor’s previous LCFS proposal was anticipated to increase gasoline costs by as much as 57¢ per gallon, and diesel by 63¢ per gallon by 2030.
- New penalty for safety complaints. L&I reports receiving a record number of complaints from workers terminated for refusing to work because of alleged concerns about COVID, real or imagined. Gov. Inslee wants to add a new, nearly $10,000 fine for “discriminating” against these workers. The fine would be in addition to reinstatement and backpay requirements under existing law.
- New daily fines on businesses refusing to close. The governor has already imposed nearly $10,000 per day fines on businesses engaging in activities not allowed by their county’s particular re-opening phase. He now wants to impose additional daily penalties on businesses refusing to comply with an L&I shutdown order. These fines would make it even more difficult, if not impossible, for a small business to get its day in court when challenging the governor’s decrees.
- Worker’s compensation diversion. The governor is also seeking to divert a portion of workers’ compensation reserves paid by employers to fund future safety and health grants during declared disasters. This could have been a $22 million diversion during the COVID pandemic, according to L&I estimates. This would be in addition to L&I’s existing safety and health grant programs, and to the $100 million already redirected annually from workers’ compensation taxes to other, sometimes unrelated, programs – all of which could result in future tax increases.
- Health insurance tax increase. The governor’s plan calls for adding nearly $40 per year to the cost of every health-insurance policy sold in Washington in order to grow the public-health bureaucracy – the same agencies whose “data” has been used to justify shutting down small businesses across our state.
For more information and updates, email Washington State Director Patrick Connor or visit www.NFIB.com/Washington.