Washington Restaurant Association Advocates Foodservice Industry as Engine for State’s Economic Recovery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEWS RELEASE
Contact: Camille St. Onge
Director of Communications
800.225.7166

OLYMPIA, Wash.—The Washington Restaurant Association announced today it will focus its efforts this legislative session on protecting the foodservice industry from harmful legislation that could compound conditions in an already challenging business climate.

While the state’s dire budgetary predicament could create targets for taxation, the WRA is urging lawmakers to consider the potential impact of levying tax and fee hikes on already struggling businesses.

“We realize legislators have a tough job ahead of them this session,” said Anthony Anton, WRA president and CEO. “While there will be few easy answers in balancing the $2.6 billion budget shortfall, we are encouraging lawmakers to consider the restaurant industry’s impact on Washington’s overall economic security. The Legislature has a unique opportunity to protect the future of small businesses in Washington.”

As the state’s largest employer, the strength of the restaurant industry is essential to economic recovery in Washington. With an unemployment rate hovering at 9 percent, the state must protect existing jobs and facilitate the creation of new ones.

Washington’s restaurant industry employs more than 200,000 people and contributes $635 million in state taxes annually. However, the escalating costs for business operators in this state, coupled with recessionary fallout, have created a challenge for retaining those jobs.

The WRA’s 2010 legislative priorities include:

  • Protecting the hospitality sector from increased taxes, fees or payroll taxes, including hikes that would fund unemployment insurance, family or sick leave benefits; street utility taxes; pop syrup or food taxes; extension of the sales tax on King County restaurants.
  • Repealing the liquor price increase imposed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board in 2009.
  • Protecting the WRA’s ability to offer a cost competitive Retrospective Rating program.
  • Positioning the WRA as a constructive participant in packaging, energy and other sustainability issues impacting the hospitality sector.
  • Continuing to educate legislators on the adverse effects of the existing minimum wage and tip credit policies.

The Washington Restaurant Association, in its 81st year, is the leading business association for the restaurant industry — the largest private employer in the state with an average workforce of nearly 200,000 in 2009. In Washington, the more than 12,500 restaurants annually generate $12.2 billion to the state economy and contribute $635 million in state taxes. Washington restaurants are vital to our economy, community and careers.

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