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December 2, 2004

Message from the Governor

Washington state is showing clear signs of a strong economic recovery. The Washington recovery is broad and deep and all across our state.

Employment in Washington is increasing more rapidly than in the country as a whole. We added over 61,000 jobs in the last year, including 10,000 net new jobs in October alone. Our unemployment rate has dropped by almost two percentage points since a year ago, twice as fast as the rest of America. We’ve gone in a short time from one of the highest unemployment rates in the country to the national average! All this growth means that we have virtually regained all the jobs lost during the recession that began after 9/11.

The jobs that are being created are good jobs, too. Between the first and second quarters of this year, Washington had the highest increase in personal income in the country. Our earnings growth was twice the national average.

Many of these jobs have been created by businesses choosing to set up shop here in Washington. For example, nine national companies have chosen Washington over Oregon, Idaho and even California for major regional distributions, operations or manufacturing centers, directly employing 2,500 new employees.

Quote of the Week
“I am pleased with the many steps we have taken to grow the economy here in Washington. But to keep our state economy strong, we must continue to build a strong, world-class education system. Our children will need the best education possible to prepare for the global, high-tech, 21st century economy that awaits them.”
—Governor Locke, December 1, 2004

Recent studies by independent organizations confirm our success in improving our business climate. A study by the Tax Foundation ranked Washington 9th best in the nation for business friendly tax climate. The Small Business Entrepreneurial Council ranked Washington the 4th friendliest business environment. The Pollina Corporate Real Estate company, one of the top U.S. corporate site relocation experts, recently named Washington one of America’s ten most business friendly states. And the U.S. Census Bureau recently released state rankings for combined state and local tax burdens. We ranked 31st, meaning 30 states have higher combined tax burdens. This is the lowest our state has ranked since 1981!

So how did we do it? There are many actions we took as a state. From our Priorities of Government budget process to our trade missions to the nickel transportation package, from targeted tax incentives to skills training for specific business sectors, we have taken many steps to bring economic prosperity back to the state.

Partnerships between state and local governments and private organizations have also been significant contributors to our state’s success. A great example is the group that convinced Boeing to locate final assembly of the 7E7 in Washington. The statewide, bipartisan effort of the Action Washington team was unprecedented—and very successful.

We need to bottle the energy, enthusiasm and collaboration we generated during the 7E7 effort to focus on other economic development objectives. Action Washington demonstrated that when we all work together–state and local governments, labor and private businesses–we can accomplish great things for our state. But instead of waiting for the next opportunity to come along to unleash this powerful partnership, let’s create our own opportunities by targeting those industries that can be engines of prosperity in Washington.

One great tool we must maintain and indeed enlarge is funding through the Community Economic Revitalization Board. CERB is a valued program that creates significant economic impacts in participating communities. But the demand for CERB funding far exceeds the available dollars. A stable funding source is needed to ensure the future of the program.

We must give our communities the economic development tools they need. We should partner with local communities to fund infrastructure to attract new businesses and help existing businesses grow and expand. Forty-eight states now use tax increment financing to allow growth to pay for itself. I’ve proposed in the past that we do the same. Our communities need this tool to keep moving in the right direction. It’s time we delivered it.

Our state is a leader in so many areas. And that didn’t happen by accident. We’ve worked hard and made tough decisions over the years because we believe in this state. And we believe in an even brighter future for our citizens.

Gary Locke
Gary Locke

Governor’s Priorities
News Highlights

Terrific Teachers in Washington
Washington’s cadre of National Board Certified Teachers grew significantly this week when the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards announced that 235 teachers achieved certification. Teachers are seeking this prestigious validation of their knowledge and skills in greater numbers, and Washington is leading the nation in supporting and retaining teachers throughout the rigorous process. The system of support has paid off as well with a higher certification rate in Washington than in the nation as a whole. There were 472 candidates in the Class of 2004 who completed all of the requirements, including the creation of a portfolio of work documenting their success in the classroom and on-line testing.

‘Best of the Best’ in State Government
Governor Locke presented the Governor’s Awards for Quality and Performance for Fall 2004 in a ceremony held in Lacey on November 29. “I am very proud of all that we’ve been able to accomplish together for Washington,” the Governor said. “The improvements we’ve made in state government are a direct reflection of our outstanding state workforce. Gov. Locke and staff of El ProtectorI believe Washington has the top state employee team in the country.” The Governor’s Awards for Quality and Performance are presented every six months. The Governor recognizes agencies that have achieved significant, measurable, sustainable improvements in the services that they deliver to their customers, and the value they provide to the public. Agencies recognized in the recent ceremony included the departments of Licensing, Information Services, Transportation, Military, Labor and Industries, Health, Social and Health Services, Veteran Affairs, Revenue, Lottery, Employment Security, and the Washington State Patrol.

Working for Women
Washington was named the fourth best state for women, according to a report released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). The report compared all states and ranked them in five categories: political participation, employment and earning, social and economic autonomy, reproductive rights, and health and well-being. IWPR is a nonprofit public policy research organization dedicated to informing and stimulating debate on public policy issues of critical importance to women and their families.

Lending a Helping Hand
The Salvation Army Olympia Corps is in need of volunteers this holiday season and is encouraging state employees to participate. Since 1998, the organization has awarded a trophy to the most outstanding state employee volunteers. The volunteer team of Nina Woodward or Ron Salazar of the Department of Social and Health Services has won the award every year. The organization needs volunteers to staff its red kettle locations as well as assistance with its adopt-a-family program. For more information, contact the Salvation Army at 360-754-2441.

Upcoming Events

12/3: Civil Rights Conference, Tacoma
12/8: Weekly News Conference, Olympia
12/8: Tourism Conference, Seattle
12/8: Reading Event, Seattle
12/9: Centennial Accord Meeting, Shelton

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