Vibrant small businesses provide our local communities with their character, create thousands of local jobs, and act as a crucial bulwark against corporate market power. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions used to fight it have disproportionately devastated small businesses while passing over large corporations. As we recover from the pandemic, small businesses are facing far more difficulty re-hiring and competing against wages being offered by some large corporations who never had to shut down.
We have asked much of our small businesses. Now as we rebuild, it’s time to give much back to them. Let’s stand beside the entrepreneurs and innovators of today and tomorrow, using policy to give them the best chance of fulfilling their dreams and making all our lives better.
Let’s re-balance the scales by providing a two-year business and occupation tax holiday for businesses with annual revenue under $10 million pre-COVID who were required by the state government to close during the pandemic. Let’s increase this to five years for such businesses located in Qualified Opportunity Zones and for businesses who can demonstrate they used their two-year tax break primarily to increase hiring, increase median wages, or decrease prices.
While many small businesses soldiered on through the pandemic, many others had to shut their doors permanently. Some of these businesses are lost for good, but some could be brought back with a little support from their communities and policy.
Let’s assist small businesses shuttered due to pandemic restrictions by providing forgivable restart loans, waiving administrative and licensing fees associated with resuming business, giving access to the above B&O tax holiday once re-opened, and crediting property taxes paid during closure toward future property taxes owed.
Overly strict occupational licensing requirements cost millions of jobs per year, raise prices through reduced competition, and limit innovation and entrepreneurship, especially among low-income workers. While some occupations need strict oversight to keep the public safe, many jobs see overbearing requirements with minimal risk to the public. No state requires more working class occupations to be licensed than Washington does, leading to ridiculous situations where it takes more training to be a manicurist than a police officer or structural engineer. Let’s begin to bring sanity back to licensing by requiring that no occupational licensing requirement can be enforced which does not protect against a demonstrable public health, welfare, or safety risk.