Washington’s the best, say labor and business – sort of

Please sit down, dear reader, because this news might make your head spin: advocates for business and labor have found an economic point on which they can agree. Well, sort of.

Labor liberals momentarily joined business conservatives late last week to praise a Forbes article ranking Washington is the best state in the nation to make a living – for the second year in a row.

Of course, labor and business cited completely opposite reasons for our two-peat at the top.

The conservative Washington Policy Center took delight in pointing out that while Gov. Jay Inslee touted the Forbes ranking, he failed to note that “the ranking lists ‘no income tax’ as one of the primary reasons for Washington’s high standing.”

The policy center went on to note that the state Department of Commerce advertises the lack of a state income tax in promotional materials urging businesses to relocated in the state of Washington. The Choose Washington State website says, “We offer businesses some competitive advantages found in few other states. These include no taxes on capital gains or personal or corporate income.”

Therefore, the policy center concludes, “The wide recognition shows having no income tax ... is clearly in the public interest ... and contributes to the general common good in our state.”

Of course, without a state income tax, Washington is a sin-tax state, and a state that isn’t meeting its constitutional obligation to fully fund K-12 schools. We tax the heck out of tobacco products and liquor to support everything from schools to law enforcement programs that other states pay for with an income tax.

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO sees it differently. Shocker, we know.

The labor council, in an article on its website TheStand.org, reminds us that the Forbes ranking is “based on a MoneyRates.com comparison of the average salary, cost of living, employment rate and workplace conditions for each state.”

That’s possible, the labor council, said because Washington has the 4th highest rate of unionization in the nation. Our 546,000 union members accounted for nearly 19 percent of the state’s total 2013 workforce.

Because union members earn about $200 a week more than non-union workers, they say, they can afford to spend more and that’s good for business.

Therefore, the labor council concludes, “Washington is consistently ranked as one of the very best states to do business.” We might accuse them of changing the topic from best state to make a living to best state to do business, but why quibble?

The point is that business and labor agree that Washington state is the best. You can’t top that.