Our 2021 Policy Agenda

Washington’s economy and communities experienced a major disruption in the wake of COVID-19, and the trajectory of the virus remains unknown. During the 2021 legislative session, the Washington Roundtable’s efforts will focus on advancing policies that support diverse and inclusive recovery.

In 2021, we will urge lawmakers to:

  • Deliver a biennial budget that addresses projected revenue shortfalls in a manner that prioritizes services most important to long-term recovery, namely education and infrastructure.
  • Avoid burdening employers with added costs that will dampen recovery.
  • Pass a transportation revenue package that supports continued implementation of the 2015 Connecting Washington investment package; invests in maintenance, preservation, and culverts; supports new projects in key economic corridors; and improves mobility in urban centers.
  • Support policies that promote economic development and job growth, particularly strategies to expand broadband availability and mitigate increases in unemployment insurance taxes.
  • Encourage the immediate actions needed at the local level to safely return Washington’s K-12 students to in-person instruction as soon as possible.
  • Support continued use of high-quality diagnostic tools that enable schools, educators, and families to assess student learning loss incurred during the pandemic.
  • Maintain the state’s commitment to high school graduation pathways as passed by the 2019 Legislature.
  • Support policies that accelerate postsecondary enrollment and credential attainment for students furthest from opportunity, particularly our Black, Hispanic and Latinx, Indigenous and Native American, and other students who face structural racial barriers and inequity.
  • Expand student access to high-quality dual-credit and dual-enrollment opportunities.
  • Protect investments in financial aid, student supports, and services that drive credential attainment.
  • Support student access to high-quality career connected learning opportunities.

Read our full 2021 Policy Agenda here, and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

NEW REPORT: Data and Research Document Persistent, Generational Impacts of Racial Inequity on Black Washingtonians

SEATTLE – December 1, 2020 – Black Washingtonians and their families experience significant inequities across multiple facets of life; the effects of which compound over time and cross generations, according to a report released today. Challenge Seattle and Washington Roundtable, business associations whose member companies represent 300,000+ employees in Washington state, partnered with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to conduct the research.

In response to the findings, corporate leaders across Washington are announcing formation of Washington Employers for Racial Equity. This growing coalition includes more than 55 CEOs and corporate leaders committed to racial equity and opportunity for all.

The Research

The report, The Commitment to Progress: An Equitable Future for Washington, centers on data comparing the experiences of Black and white Washingtonians across multiple dimensions of life – education, healthcare, criminal justice, personal finance, and the corporate workplace. It was developed with input from Black community and business leaders; diversity, equity and inclusion specialists; and data and research experts.

Key findings:

  • Black Washingtonians and their families experience significant disadvantages across every dimension of life examined.
  • The interrelated effects of these inequities compound over time and cross generations.
  • Disparities exist regardless of socioeconomic status or education levels, and point to inequities across systems, structures, and policies.
  • COVID-19 and the related recession are magnifying disparities and deepening racial inequities.

“The data and research are clear – Black Washingtonians have not received fair and equitable opportunities for generations,” said Chris Gregoire, CEO of Challenge Seattle and former governor of Washington state. “The COVID-19 pandemic is only magnifying these inequities. We have much work to do to support lasting change in private and public sector systems, structures, and policies.”

“This research further documents the inequities that Black Washingtonians and their families experience across multiple facets of life,” said Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable. “It will take a concerted effort from all of us to actively drive change.”

This initial report focuses on Black Washingtonians because of the long history of injustice and degree of inequity experienced by this community. That said, racism impacts everyone and contributes to inequities for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and many other communities.

Washington Employers for Racial Equity: Commitment to Progress

CEOs and corporate leaders have stepped forward to create Washington Employers for Racial Equity. To begin, the coalition will focus on advancing equity for Black Washingtonians, while staying focused on the ultimate goal of equity and opportunity for all. In forming this coalition, employers have signed a commitment to progress, with collective goals for 2030. Those goals include:

  • Fostering an inclusive corporate culture
  • Employing a workforce that reflects Washington’s communities
  • Achieving parity in employee compensation
  • Increasing Black representation in management and senior leadership
  • Increasing internships and work-embedded learning experiences for Black students
  • Increasing diversity and racial equity among contractors, vendors, and supplier networks; and increasing support for Black-owned businesses

Coalition members have set a goal to invest a combined $2 billion over five years to support racial equity through their companies’ internal and external corporate investments and community and philanthropic efforts. The coalition will advocate statewide for actions and public policies that support racial equity, with an initial focus on education equity, home ownership, and support for Black-owned businesses. Washington Employers for Racial Equity is committed to accountability. The collation will report on collective progress and urge the measurement of statewide equity indicators.

“As organizations work collaboratively across sectors to address the social and economic issues that affect the health of our communities, we must also partner to promote equity and opportunity to ensure a better future for all of Washington,” said Susan Mullaney, president of Kaiser Permanente Health Plan of Washington and chair of Challenge Seattle. “This work cannot wait. We must strengthen our current efforts by listening, learning, and taking action to eliminate injustice and support racial equity.”

“I am proud to be part of a coalition of employers joining forces to advance racial equity through clear action that will support change,” said Craig Dawson, president and CEO of Retail Lockbox, Inc. and incoming chair of Washington Roundtable. “Washington state leaders across industries – including financial services, healthcare, retail, construction, technology, and more – will work toward shared goals for a better, more equitable future.”

Challenge Seattle and Washington Roundtable serve as the coalition’s founding sponsors. Additional sponsors include Bellevue Chamber, Economic Alliance Snohomish County, Greater Seattle Partners, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, and Washington Hospitality Association.

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Our 2020 Policy Agenda

As we set our sights for the new year, we are happy to share our 2020 Policy Agenda, urging lawmakers to:

  • Deliver a supplemental budget that is sustainable, maintains healthy reserves, limits spending growth, and is supported by tax policy that is predictable and supports economic growth for all.
  • Protect 2015 Connecting Washington investments dedicated to asset preservation
    and maintenance and improvements in key economic corridors. Further degradation of the
    state’s highway and bridge systems in response to funding cuts required by Initiative 976 will
    significantly compromise safe and efficient movement of people and goods and undermine
    economic growth.
  • Support policies that promote economic development and job growth, particularly in
    non-urban regions.
  • Drive progress toward the 70 percent credential attainment goal for Washington
    students.

Thank you to all Roundtable board members who contributed to the development of this agenda. We look forward to working together with state leaders to make Washington a better place to live, work, and do business. Click here to read our full 2020 Policy Agenda, and be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn for updates throughout the legislative session.

NEW REPORT: Unlocking Washington’s Full Potential

Overall, Washington state is thriving. According to a new report from the Washington Roundtable and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), it is a top-five state for per-capita income growth and ranks among the top 10 states for job growth. At current momentum, BCG estimates that our state will produce 1.4 million jobs over the next decade. However, the statewide data masks a complex regional narrative in which prosperity is spread unevenly, and communities are outright struggling.

The new report, Unlocking Washington’s Full Potential, takes an in-depth look at regional economic performance to better understand growth trends and what may be holding some regions back.

Key Findings: There is opportunity to maintain Washington’s top-five position for per-capita income growth and boost its position to become a top-five state for job growth by bridging the urban-rural divide and driving growth that is distributed more equitably statewide. To become a top-five state for job growth, Washington must create 250,000 jobs, in addition to those already projected, by 2027. The state can realize 120,000, or nearly half, of the additional jobs needed to reach the top-five goal by raising economic performance in regions outside the North I-5 Corridor up to the state’s average growth rate. To do that, key challenges in five areas must be addressed: human capital, infrastructure, innovation ecosystem, trade and investment, and regulation.

Framework for Growth: The report also puts forward a framework for fostering growth that is diversified (not concentrated in one industry) and inclusive (balanced across all regions and benefiting individuals in all). It includes actionable recommendations in each of the five focus areas and urges state and regional leaders to pursue new policies that will bridge the urban-rural divide and drive equitable economic growth.

Download the full report and connect with the Washington Roundtable on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.