McKenna campaigns on relief for small businesses
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna released a jobs plan Tuesday, renewing his call for regulatory and tax reform for small businesses.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna on Tuesday renewed his call for regulatory and tax reform for small businesses, saying fewer hassles from government would translate into more jobs for Washingtonians.
Speaking from the shop floor at Tri-Tec Manufacturing, a Kent firm that makes valves for the U.S. Navy, the Republican state attorney general released a "Jobs 2.0 plan" that touched on familiar themes he outlined last November.
"If we want to support economic growth, we ought to listen to our customers," McKenna said, referring to the business people he has met with during his gubernatorial campaign.
Among his proposals:
• Allowing more small businesses to avoid paying the state's Business and Occupation tax by increasing the tax credit from $841 to $4,800 a year.
• Lowering employee health costs by discouraging the use of "fee-for-service" insurance plans that reimburse doctors for the individual tests and services they provide, and encouraging the adoption of higher-deductible plans, coupled with health-savings accounts, to encourage patients to become better health-care consumers. He did not offer details on how he would accomplish that.
• Increasing the number of schools and colleges that emphasize science, technology, engineering and math in an effort to create a more skilled labor pool for small employers.
• Reforming the tax system so that businesses pay sales taxes based on their location, instead of the location where their product or service is delivered or performed. The system was changed in 2009 and has become an administrative headache for businesses dealing with a variety of tax rates, his campaign said.
McKenna focused on broad themes Tuesday, leaving most of the details to a "white paper" he posted on his campaign website.
When he ventured into specifics about increasing the business and occupation tax credit — a move that would effectively exempt about 118,000 businesses from paying the tax — McKenna wasn't sure whether the savings for business would reduce state revenues by $250 million every year or every two years. (The $250 million is an annual cost, according to the analysis cited in his white paper.)
A spokesman for former Congressman Jay Inslee, the Democratic candidate for governor, said in a statement: "There isn't anything new, anything innovative or different from what McKenna has said before, and what he's said before are the same things Republicans in Olympia have been saying for years."
During the news conference, McKenna was asked whether he had any regrets about a remark he made last week to a state Democratic Party volunteer, who approached him and asked his position on a bill that would require insurance plans funded or administered by the state to cover abortions as part of maternity care.
McKenna initially told the volunteer that he couldn't answer the question because of his position as attorney general. But when the volunteer described herself as "a youth worker who was wondering," McKenna suggested she was a political operative who was trying to "bushwhack" him, and told her, "Why don't you go get a job."
The remark, and accompanying video, received national coverage on political blogs.
"I regret what's being done to a political process I care a lot about and have done a lot for as a volunteer and as a candidate," McKenna said Tuesday. "It's demeaning to the entire process to ambush people with cameras, stick microphones in their face. ... There was no good intention whatsoever that is reflected in that kind of ambush-politics style."
Susan Kelleher: 206-464-2508 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @susankelleher