Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I was recently appointed to the Joint Oversight Committee on Trade Policy. It is an honor to be one of the few Republicans invited to work on these issues. It is already apparent that the actions of state legislatures can harm international trading and we need to avoid that outcome in our state. With one in three jobs in Washington state tied to exports, we are the most trade-dependent state in the country.
I also had the honor of welcoming a Vietnamese congressional delegation to the state Capitol (pictured right). I find it interesting their members of Congress serve five-year terms, instead of the two-year terms our state and U.S. representatives serve.
Positive economic trends continue in our state, although there is still uncertainty regarding our country's exposure to the European sovereign debt crisis. Our financial institutions remain vulnerable and exposed to the situations in Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. It has been said that when America sneezes, the world catches a cold. But now, when several countries sneeze, the world catches a cold. Our country is not immune in this inter-connected and inter-dependent global economy.
Productivity levels in the United States are now almost back to pre-recession levels, yet 6.6 million people are still out of work. As the Economist Magazine has consistently said, companies have learned to innovate at new levels during the recession, coupled with globalization and technological advancements. An example I use when teaching my MBA course at Whitworth University comes from a Wall Street Journal story about the Frito-Lay Company, which announced it would double its capacity without hiring one additional employee. I warn my students that our country may have to endure the possibility of higher unemployment if other companies follow suit. Several countries have had relatively strong economies with higher unemployment, such as Germany, Japan and England. Time will tell for the United States.
Two weeks into the special session and little progress is being made. The odds of reaching agreement on meaningful, structural reform and actually balancing the budget in a sustainable way are declining by the hour. The special session may very well mold into a regular session, with the urgency seemingly absent from all activity.
Last week, we were presented with a bailout bill in the House Ways and Means Committee. It deals with a convention center in Wenatchee that has defaulted on its payment. I voted against this bailout for several reasons, beginning with the original structure of the loan, based on reports by our State Auditor and thorough testimony.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you. I hope to see you in Olympia!
421 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7922 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000