Liias introduces legislation to support small business growth

State Rep. Marko Liias announced Friday that he has introduced legislation with a package of proposals to support small businesses and encourage their growth.  Liias, D-Edmonds, said he has spent the last year listening to business owners and the challenges they’re facing in the recession.
“Small businesses are fighting to keep their doors open right now,” Liias said.  “As a state, I believe we need to step in and help where we can to keep them, and the jobs they provide, alive.”
The legislation that Liias is sponsoring, House Bill 1165, features a small business loan program to help secure or guarantee loans to businesses.  It would allow the Department of Commerce to put together a program with up to $100 million in loans or guarantees.
“The credit freeze we initially encountered in 2007 is thawing, but at a very slow pace,” Liias said. “Access to credit is a staple of many businesses, and since good companies are still being denied, we have a problem that will slow our recovery.  A state loan program could step in and keep our economy moving forward.”
Liias would also provide a tax credit for businesses adding workers, an idea he’s pushed in previous sessions.  Depending on the pay and benefits offered, and annual $4,000 or $2,000 business tax credit would be given.
“If you take an overall look at the benefit of companies putting people back to work, offering a small incentive during high unemployment is a common sense win for the whole state,” Liias said.  “Businesses are rightfully tentative to move too quickly, so this is a way to make that any new hiring pencils out for their balance sheet.”
Other elements of the proposal  include an online portal with information on state programs to help business, and a taxpayer bill of rights that informs businesses upfront what tax codes apply to them, and removes penalties on businesses that unintentionally make mistakes with their tax filings.
“We need to improve the relationship between the state and businesses,” Liias said.  “A lot of the angst from the business community can be helped with better information and assistance.  These changes will get the state off to a good start with companies, and be compassionate when mistakes occur.”
  1. Rep. Liias supported and voted for SESSB 6143 in the last leg. session. This bill increased the B&O tax by close to 20 percent on service businesses, equivalent to a “head tax” increase of roughly $500 annually per employee, on top of the $3,000 per employee under the old B&O rate.
    Rep. Liias would seem more credibly “pro small business” by introducing a bill to roll back last year’s B&O tax increase on service businesses. This new bill seems like grandstanding after his support of the job-killing tax increase last year.

  2. I agree with John Zipper – I am one of those whose B&O was raised. It was a very targeted increase affecting a small portion of all the businesses in the state.

    When I asked him why the increase was not smaller & spread over all the businesses (you know – share the burden), including retailers who have the lowest B&O rates (less that 1/4 of mine) he said that since they have the ‘duty’ to collect sales taxes and remit them to the state, I mentioned I am in the tax business & should get a pass as well since I help my clients with that duty. No response!

  3. In reading the text of the bill, there is no identified funding source for the loan guarantee program. No funding identified, no guarantee program. And there is this:

    The department of commerce may not use any Washington state
    funds or funds that come from the public treasury of the state of
    Washington to make loans or to make any payment under a loan or loan
    guarantee agreement.

    So where exactly is Liias expecting the funding to come from? Seems to me he wanted to see his name in the newspaper because there really isn’t anything to the loan program.

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