Read Gov. Inslee’s Reaction to State-of-the-Union Speech + What’s Happening in Olympia
Below, read verbatim Gov. Jay Inslee's statement after Pres, Obama's "State of the Union" speech.
“Tonight the President restated his commitment to continue our nation’s economic recovery, invest in the growth of the middle class and to address America’s growing economic inequality. I applaud the President’s commitments to expanding access to early learning, providing more Americans with better and more affordable health coverage, reforming our immigration system, increasing the minimum wage, and investing in infrastructure to create jobs. And I appreciatethe President’s call to action to address climate change, the paths forward on which offer our state either the unacceptable costs of inaction, or tremendous economic opportunities through leadership.
“This must be a year of action, in both Washingtons. Today I laid out a proposal that would invest in our children’s education and the future of our state. My administration will continue to examine the best way to increase the minimum wage in the Evergreen State and give more Washingtonians the opportunity to share in the economic recovery. And the ongoing legislative session presents us with the opportunity for action to create jobs rebuilding our infrastructure. We will continue to pursue B&O tax relief for thousands of small businesses, and build upon the health care reforms which have already, in just four months, provided 320,000 previously-uninsured Washingtonians with access to care.
“Washingtonians, like all Americans, are an optimistic and forward-looking group. We can and must work together to ensure this future is realized.”
- Minimum Wage: Inslee is backing a state House plan to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. Despite numerous reports and studies indicating the $.78 cent raise (on top of the $.13 cent cost-of-living bump built in) will actually decrease employment. Washington L&I figures show our unemployment rate has nearly doubled since the minimum wage was raised $.55 in 1999 and added annual increases. Inslee has not taken a side in the Seattle minimum wage issue, where Mayor Ed Murray plans to bump at least 600 city workers up to $15.00 per-hour, at an estimated cost of "over $1 million dollars annually" (Seattle Times).
- Infrastructure: Inslee wants a gas tax to fund his transportation package to build and fix roads, bridges and highways. While there ARE projects that need attention, numerous citizens polls and telephone town halls (like the one held in Tri-Cities recently) are against the idea of a gas tax that could be as much as $.10 cents per gallon. The telephone town hall held by 8th District Senator Sharon Brown in the Tri-Cities showed 93% of the 3,000 participants don't want a tax. Respondents want Olympia to use their money more wisely. The hundreds of millions wasted so far on the I-520 Bridge and Seattle Viaduct tunnel projects have made citizens even more wary of new taxes.
- Inslee has not produced any concrete legislation or plans of how to lower B&O (Business and Occupation Taxes) in our state. In fact, this mention in his State Of the Union Comment is the first mention of it. He has, however, proposed eliminating at least 7 tax loopholes, as he calls them, to pay for his $200 million education package proposal. It includes, as Newstalk 870 reported, taxing all areas of bottled water sales in our state, and removing the state sales-tax exempt status for out-of-state residents and businesses who shop here. They would have to obtain a refund later from the Department of Revenue.
- Addressing climate change: Last October, Inslee signed a controversial climate change pact with OR, CA and British Columbia. While it's not legally binding, it calls for Washington to adopt low-carbon fuel standards that could raise prices $1.00 a gallon or higher. Legislators are so concerned about the possibility of Inslee using an executive order to enforce the standards after they adjourn in March that the Senate called an emergency hearing last week to gather data and testimony about the economic impact of such a move.