Innovation Coalition Public Policy Agenda Focuses on Education, Business Climate
WTIA is one of the founding members of the Innovation Coalition, along with the the Technology Alliance (www.technology-alliance.com) and the Washington Biotech and Biomedical Association (www.washbio.org).
These three organizations lead the way in advocating for the state’s technology sectors. While each organization has its own focus for its specific constiuency, we all agree on several major public policy issues.
Namely, higher education funding for more STEM degrees, improving math and science achievement in K-12 along with improving the high school graduation rate and making tax credits for Research and Development permanent.
The state’s technology based industries, which include aerospace, biotech/life sciences and information technlogy/software/web are all growing and hiring. Our number one problem is the amount and availability of talent, primarily those with STEM degrees. The WTIA hears this from our members of all sizes, from Microsoft, Google and Amazon to startups and young tech companies.
While Washington is a good state for technology industries to do business, the costs are high in terms of taxes (B&O, sales, payroll), especially for manufacturers. The R&D tax credits have helped numerous companies save money and help them grow. Many other states have very generous tax credit programs that are competing against Washington.
Our elected officials are rightly concerned about jobs. Tech-based industries in Washington pay the highest average salaries and the vast majority provide superior benefits to their employees (including WTIA’s affinity group health plan). It makes sense for policymakers to spend scarce tax dollars on those areas that will help create jobs. For the Innovation Coalition members, this means increasing the supply of talented individuals with the right degrees from Washington’s colleges and universities.
While improving K12 does not have an immediate impact on the supply of engineers and computer scientists, it is critical that Washington’s students raise their game in math and science and graduate from high school in higher numbers. If you want a stark description of the problem, check out this presentation: http://lazowska.cs.washington.edu/STEM.pdf
The full Innovation Coalition public policy agenda will be published on the WTIA website soon. Please contact me at Lmcmurran@washingtontechnology.org if you have questions or want to know more about the Innovation Coalition and our agenda.