Poll: State business climate ‘fragile’

Results of a recent survey reveal that Washington voters are concerned about the “fragility” of the business climate in Washington state and leery of legislative actions that would dampen the economy.

The poll conducted by Moore Information for the Association of Washington Business (AWB) and the Washington Roundtable during the last two days of January shows that more people than not believe our state’s business climate is “not as good” or “among the worst” when compared to other states.

“This poll is consistent with what I hear from employers as I travel around the state,” said AWB President Don Brunell. “The people out there creating jobs are concerned about the high costs of doing business in Washington.”

As further evidence of the state’s competitive disadvantage, Brunell pointed to a recent Washington Alliance for a Competitive Economy (WashACE) report which shows Washington is the eighth most costly state in the country to do business.

Another key point from the poll is that 58 percent of voters think Washington’s business climate is too fragile to raise taxes at this time.

“People recognize that if we want to create and protect new jobs, we’ve got to make sure our business climate is competitive and not held back by excessive government costs and regulations,” said Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable. “Over the past two years, the Legislature has exhibited cautious restraint by passing budgets that didn’t require tax increases and by reforming laws that hamper business growth and the voters see the value in that approach.”

“We hear similar public commitments lawmakers and our new governor about passing a budget that doesn’t hurt our fragile economy,” said Brunell. “We hope they will keep those commitments and continue that restraint while the economy gets back on its feet. For instance, tax incentives are important to improving our competitiveness and we’d ask the legislature, as it reviews tax incentives, to not eliminate those which are vital to attracting investments to our state.”

The Moore poll found that nearly two-thirds of voters agree that tax incentives for business help create jobs.

“If it’s important to fund essential government services like education, health care and transportation – and we believe it is — we’ve got to have a healthy business climate to help fund these needs,” Mullin said.

These are results of a telephone survey conducted January 30-31, 2005 among a representative sample of 500 voters statewide in Washington. The surveys were conducted by Moore Information, Inc. The sampling error is plus or minus 4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.