Citing economic impact analysis of Hirst decision and lagging rural economies, BIAW asks governor to call special session

Take Our Survey: Hirst and the Capital Budget

The Building Industry Association of Washington has asked Gov. Jay Inslee to call a special session to address the Hirst decision. In an October 4, 2017 letter, BIAW executive vice president Art Castle wrote,

We know that you understand the importance of being Governor of the entire state and we ask that you take action to provide Washington citizens and local governments with certainty. This impasse is a real economic issue for our state. Leadership from the state’s executive is needed now. We ask that you call the Legislature back into session to address the uncertainty created by Hirst and also pass an important capital budget. Legislators in session are more legislatively productive, and providing a real deadline will initiate conversation to produce resolution.

The letter cited the economic impact analysis we wrote about here

When counties fully implement Hirst, it will have staggering impacts, as demonstrated in a study conducted by HR2 Research and Analytics. The results show:

  • $6.9 billion lost in economic activity each year in Washington, predominantly in rural communities

  • $452.3 million in lost employee wages due to the impacts of Hirst, annually

  • Nearly 9,300 lost jobs (FTEs) in rural Washington, annually

  • $392.7 million in lost taxes to state and local governments, annually

  • $4.59 billion in losses to the construction industry, annually

  • $37 billion in lost property values in areas impacted by Hirst

  • $346 million in property taxes shifted to other properties in Washington due to the decision

Also cited was this “Urban versus Rural” report published by the Employment Security Department last month. One takeaway from the 4-page report.

Washington’s employment levels have reached all-time highs with statewide unemployment at 4.5 percent as of June 2017. Much of the current economic expansion is being driven by job growth in the state’s major urban centers. While most of rural Washington saw faster job growth than the U.S. average, a few rural counties still have fewer jobs today than they did ve years ago. Twenty- one percent of Washington’s counties have yet to recover the jobs lost from the Great Recession – all of them rural counties.

In his letter to the governor, Castle writes,

Employment numbers, both jobs and wages, continue to significantly lag in our state’s rural areas. Rural counties still average an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, a higher figure than urban areas. As rural counties were hit harder in the recession, they still have not recovered. The crisis caused by Hirst directly impacts rural economies that took the brunt of the recession and have been the slowest to recover. Not resolving the quandary created by Hirst will exacerbate the creation of new jobs and stable employment for these communities.

As we wrote when the legislative session ended in July, failure to reach an agreement on a Hirst fix has led to an impasse that has held up adoption of a largely agree-upon $4 billion capital budget. What do you think about the ongoing stalemate. Please let us know by taking our brief survey