By Mike Benbow Herald Writer
OLYMPIA — Members of the state’s chambers of commerce descended on the state capitol Wednesday, spreading the message that businesses can help government emerge from its budget crisis.
“Our message was we need to protect the business climate and the business community,” said Louise Stanton-Masten, president of the Everett Area Chamber of Commerce. “We need to grow the economy through job growth as the way out of our budget crisis.”
Stanton-Masten said chambers from Everett, south Snohomish County, Monroe and the Arlington-Smokey Point areas went to the Legislature as a coalition to add more strength to their message.
“We represent 1,800 companies with over 100,000 employees.” she said. “We’re gaining in strength.”
She noted that legislators are “looking for an integrated message” from the business community.
Stanton-Masten said the group isn’t expecting legislators to spend a lot of money on their issues with a major budget shortage. But she said it also is trying to ensure that the Legislature doesn’t raise the state’s Business and Occupations tax.
In addition to trying to hold the line on taxes and fees, she said education, health care and transportation are important issues.
She said the group is hoping to expand higher education options in the county by adding classes toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Everett Community College.