Thursday, Gov. Inslee addressed his plans for the 2021-2023 budget proposals concerning business and COVID job losses.

He said WA sustained an 11.1 pecent job loss (from the shutdowns) and said the Legislature will take up a $100 million dollar grant-loan program to help small businesses. (This is the amount referenced in another story, where some 28,000 businesses have already begun the process of signing up for).

Inslee said however, sounding like state functions would not be cut, "now would not be the time to make cuts in the provisions of the state that help businesses and our families."

He said we have to address the "racial and economic inequity" in all that we do. He proposed legislation to reduce tax levels on small businesses concerning unemployment insurance, saying in the year 2021 over $790 million less will be paid.

He also said funding will be provided for the Working Families Tax Credit, a program created years ago but reportedly never funded. He said it will help some 312,000 low income working families.

The bulk of his conference was spent on healthcare, OSHA and healthcare districts, not so much on business and the economy.

He also claimed workers have faced retaliation for making legitimate health complaints or reports during the COVID crisis, Inslee wants to increase protections for workers who raise concerns. He said he wants to increase OSHA funding and other methods to ensure workers are protected.

Senator Karen Keiser was on the conference, offering comments, including the legislature addressing unemployment insurance increases certain to arrive in early 2021.  She echoed Inslee's comments about 'protecting' workers via OSHA for speaking up about health concerns. She and Inslee claimed people have suffered retaliation on this matter.

Dominique Morel, who is the Director of Retail Operations for REI also spoke. She was tasked by REI for creating safe work operations and conditions. She joined Inslee's advisory groups in May and then talked about how her experience has been included in the state's response. Not really sure the purpose of her participation.

Inslee linked healthcare recovery to economic recovery, $397 money will be proposed for PPE, testing supplies, and other COVID related logistics to be used.

To pay for this and other sources, Inslee said he is proposing a new long term funding source, coming from "a new assessment on health insurance and carriers 3rd party administrators" in our state. He did not specifically elaborate on that.

Inslee also dropped a bomb that he wants to create "regional" healthcare districts, combining services across counties, and regionalized care and service. He claims a disparity between resources and abilities between various counties caused issues during the pandemic.

Based upon comments from Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D) of Spokane, it sounds as if public health districts and the system are going to be beefed up, and perhaps given more control through becoming regional.  No doubt this is due to Spokane firing it's Chief Medical Officer over lack of moving upward in Phases and returning to normal.

Inslee also addressed the homeless crisis by talking about building more homes for them, including "more affordable housing."  Not sure how building the homes will affect the growing numbers of people, for example, living on the streets in Seattle and King County.

His K-12 budget will reportedly include $400 million to "improve educational outcomes for all students."  He said his budget on "equitable student supports," such as broadband for those who cannot afford it.

Inslee said "dollars don't grow on trees" and he said lower income families pay higher percentages of tax burdens.  He claimed out tax code is wildly regressive. He claims the bottom 5th of wage earners pay 17% taxes, while the wealthiest pay only 3%

Inslee said he is proposing a capital gains tax on the sale of bonds, stocks, and other assets, as he has in the past.  He says it won't affect most people.

He said if the legislature is not open to that, there are other "aggressive" means to raise revenue.

He then turned it over to other officials including ESD Director Suzy Levine as well as for questions.  He told a reporter from the AP he believes a capital gains tax will pass legislature.

To watch the conference for yourself click on the button below.



More From 870 AM KFLD