Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CERB Your Chance to Make the Decisions

The Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) currently has an open position for an executive from a large business (50+ employees) from the area west of the Cascades. As an economic development leader in Pierce County, the Chamber wanted to call the board vacancy to our members' attention. Please feel free to distribute to any interested parties.

Community Economic Revitalization BoardThe Community Economic Revitalization Board is Washington's strategic economic development resource, focused on creating and retaining jobs in partnership with local governments. CERB finances public infrastructure to encourage new development and expansion in targeted areas. CERB's objectives are to strengthen the economies of areas of the state that have experienced high unemployment rates or below-average economic growth; to encourage the diversification of economies throughout the state; and to provide incentives for expansion of employment opportunities.

CERB meetings are scheduled six times a year to consider project applications. Please see our schedule of meeting dates and application deadlines.

If you have any questions or suggestions for potential Pierce County applicants, please feel free to contact myself or Stacey Tichenor, the Governor's Executive Analyst for Boards & Commission at (360) 902-4109 or stacey.tichenor@gov.wa.gov.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sneak Peek #2: Sound Transit Article

Here's another article that will appear later in the Chamber's newsletter:

After several discussions and meetings, the Public Affairs Council decided to take a neutral position on the Sound Transit 2 measure on this November’s ballot. The Chamber is asking its members to review the package to determine for themselves the best course of action.

The 15-year mass transit package will increase express bus and commuter rail service in a three-county area, including Pierce County, and add 55 miles of new regional light rail to the existing system.

If passed, Pierce County residents can expect improvements to regional transit services in Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma and Sumner and will potential include expanded parking, pedestrian improvements at or near existing stations, additional bus/transfer facilities for feeder stations, bicycle access and storage at stations, and new drop-off areas for increased ridesharing. In addition, bus and commuter rail service will be expanded, although light rail from here northward will not occur in this package.

The price tag for this measure is estimated at $17.9 billion, which will be paid through a half-of-one percent sales tax increase (about five cents on a $10 purchase) and the continuation of existing Sound Move taxes (a 0.4% sales tax and 0.3% vehicle license tax).

Supporters state the new package will enable greater economic development through the improved transportation of goods and employees; will allow better growth management; could cut car and truck travel as much as 30 percent; expect reduced carbon dioxide pollution by nearly 100,000 tons a year and will likely save consumers $41 million annually in reduced fuel costs if voters approve the plan and commuters switch to transit

Supporters estimate the number of riders will double to 110,000 from the 55,000 riders who use Sound Transit every day due to the 1009 opening of service between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tacoma International Airport.

Critics contend the new package cost much more than expected, ridership will not increase, and this package will ultimately do little to remove cars from roadway congestion. Some critics would rather see more funding for rapid bus service to obtain a bigger bang for the buck.

More information on this package can be found on the Chamber’s Live Wire blog at http://www.tacomachamber.blogspot.com/. [See below for the links.]

Sneak Peek: I-1029 Article

You get a first look at an article that will appear in the Chamber's newsletter later this month about Initiative 1029 (it hasn't even been edited yet).

The Chamber’s Board will be voting on a resolution to oppose Initiative 1029, a state-wide measure that mandates additional training, additional background checks and disciplinary standards for long-term care workers for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

On the surface, this measure appears worthy of support. But after the Chamber’s Public Affairs Council reviewed the measure, they determined the initiative was too time-consuming (especially for smaller care-giving organizations), burdensome and duplicative.

“It doesn’t make sense to have an FBI background check on care-givers, which adds cost and time constraints, when the State Patrol already does one now,” said Gary Nomensen, Vice Chair of the Public Affairs Council.

The Public Affairs Council determined the initiative will eliminate jobs, limited care options, does not allow training to be tailored to specific situations, and forces expensive training on workers when there is no evidence showing it would actually improve care.

The impact on families was highlighted as well. “This initiative will make it more expensive for families to have basic care provided for their family members,” said Hans Hechtman, who served on the Public Affairs Council. He added, “It will even force paid family members to take unnecessary and expensive training before caring for one of their family members. In other words, a mother who has cared for her child since birth would be unable to provide care services to that same child if they were to become disabled.”

The cost to benefits ratio was a major factor for many Public Affairs Council members. "The Office of Financial Management estimates it will cost taxpayers at least $135 million for the next five years,” said Ray Tennison, a Public Affairs Council member. “This is an expensive solution to problems that don’t exist.”

The Public Affairs Council recommended the resolution to the Chamber’s Board of Directors to oppose this measure and the vote will take place by the end of September (after this article goes to press).

This issue actually began near the end of the last legislative session, when a workgroup selected by Governor Gregoire of senior care providers, elected officials and industry advocates reviewed training issues for Washington State’s long-term care workers. The review process of the workgroup found no evidence that exceptional amounts of training hours would increase the quality of care.

According to sources, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which had participated in the process, turned its back on the work done collectively with these experts. After their legislation was rejected by democrats in the legislature last session, the union collected enough signatures to offer a ballot measure this November.

The measure alarms many long-term care workers and businesspeople in the industry.

“If this initiative passes in November, it will likely put me out of business,” said Randy Walden, owner of Heartwarming Care and recent winner of the Chamber’s Minority-owned Business Award. Mr. Walden fears the excessive training demanded by this measure will burden his business with additional costs and limit his ability to schedule his employees, who work directly in the homes of their clients.

Having spent nearly a year serving on the Governor’s workgroup responsible for reviewing these issues, he expressed his frustration having one of the key partners in that endeavor abandon the group’s collective work.

Mr. Walden will be at the Chamber’s Board meeting when it discusses the resolution to oppose Initiative 1029 and he intends to speak. “This initiative is wrong for the industry, bad for business, but even more, it will hurt the seniors and disabled folks it claims to help. The Chamber’s Board needs to vote for this resolution and its members need to stop this initiative in November by voting NO.”

Go to the Chamber’s Live Wire blog at
http://www.tacomachamber.blogspot.org/ for the results of the Chamber Board’s vote and for additional resources. [Ignore that part. The resources are below.]

Office of Financial Management: I-1029 Impacts

No on Initiative I-1029: Community Care Coalitation

Governor Gregoire's Workgroup Final Report

One-Minute Voter

Secretary of State Sam Reed has a clever new item on the office website, so now all it takes is one minute of your time to become a better informed voter.

Click this link to access a personal website for yourself that includes:
  • candidate statements for those appearing on your ballot,
  • photos for the upcoming election,
  • maps to the nearest ballot drop box location, and even
  • online address change forms.

    Best of all, the site will contain contact information for the elected officials who represent you.