Here’s what Jay Inslee wants to do to keep the state’s tech industry humming

Jay Inslee

There’s no shortage of ideas in Jay Inslee’s economic plan for Washington state. The Democratic candidate for governor released a 30-page jobs plan — divided into seven subsections — on Monday at the MacDonald-Miller factory in Seattle.

Among the priorities: Clean Energy, Aerospace, Life Sciences, Military, Information and Communication Technology, Agriculture and Small Business.

Whew, that’s a mouthful.

It has taken us a bit of time to digest the document, which is posted below. And we are still making our way through portions of it.

But I did spend some extra time reading Inslee’s ideas for the IT sector, which specifically cites the growth of companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Valve.

The plan digs into much-talked about reforms needed in taxes (B&O exemptions for research-based startups with fewer than 50 employees); education (STEM degree production at universities) and recruitment (A “one-stop-shop” to promote the region and attract technology businesses from across the globe).

What I didn’t see in the plan was a call to use state money for a venture capital fund to support emerging startups, a hot-button issue that Inslee floated in announcing his campaign last year and an idea that was  roundly criticized by Washington State Attorney General and GOP frontrunner Rob McKenna (and others in the venture capital community).

However, Inslee did lay out some ideas to jumpstart new startups, saying that he would enhance commercialization efforts at the state’s leading research institutions by “giving them more flexibility in taking equity position(s) in spinoff companies and using funds generated from patent and technology licensing to reinvest in other technologies.”

As the Slog reports, Inslee’s plan may be a bit tough for Washingtonians to swallow.

In many ways, the GOP message is a helluva a lot simpler: Cut spending, lower taxes, and reduce regulations. Get government out of our wallets, and out of the way of businesses, and then sit back and watch the market do its magic. That’s the Republican solution to growing the economy, and its awfully enticing.

So from a messaging perspective, Inslee’s got his work cut out for him, because there’s nothing simple or hands off about his approach. Yeah, sure, it’s filled with the kind of “targeted” tax breaks we see from both parties (though he also calls for ending nonproductive exemptions and sunsetting the new ones), but implicit in Inslee’s plan this notion that government has an active, aggressive role in courting and incubating new businesses, training workers, and setting industrial policy.

Here is the full plan from Inslee.

Inslee Building a New Economy for Washington

  • http://blog.CascadeSoft.net @CascadeRam

    I’m glad Inslee has dropped the idea of a state-funded venture capital fund.
    Real VC funds themselves haven’t been doing well and the last thing we need is government trying to play VC with taxpayer dollars that can be spent on far more worthy causes.

    The notion of targeted tax breaks (supported by both parties) is also a matter of concern to me. These tax breaks are more likely to help companies with the biggest lobbyist budget and companies that are good at exploiting loopholes.

  • http://twitter.com/RedRussak ‘Red’ Russak

    Lot’s of talk. Looking forward to the ‘action’