|By Renée Sunde, President/CEOIn his State of the State address this week, Gov. Jay Inslee opened his remarks by touting Washington’s strong economy as one of the best for doing business and our historically low unemployment rate. His praise of the Paid Family Leave legislation was described as a best in class model and example of how we have invested in the people of Washington State.
Inslee challenged legislators to complete the job of fully funding public schools and passing a tax on sources of carbon emissions.
The state is under a Supreme Court mandate to fully fund schools this year. Inslee’s critics disagree that taxing companies with significant carbon emissions is the best way to help pay for schools.
The Governor called on Democrats and Republicans to find common ground; leaving valuable educational and environmental legacies for the generations to follow. Rather than focusing on a short session he challenged legislators to work on building a long legacy. “Let’s get to work together,” he said Tuesday on the second day of the 2018 session.
Democrats now hold slight seat advantages in the state Senate and House. Republicans have criticized Inslee for proposing a new tax to raise money for schools.
Sen John Braun, the ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said a carbon tax would financially burden businesses and citizens alike and he doubted there were enough votes in the Legislature to approve it. He further criticized Inslee’s budget proposal for balancing the next state budget by borrowing from state savings. The Legislature will amend Inslee’s proposal before returning it to him for approval.
Republican Senator Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish County termed the carbon tax as a “tax rich, policy poor” idea during a radio interview this week. As taxes discourage and reduce carbon emissions, revenues decrease, he explained.
“As it (revenue) disappears, what will you tax next?” he asked.
In a wide-ranging address, Inslee cited Washington companies such as Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon. com as examples of leaving lasting legacies in the business world. He challenged the Legislature to leave legacies on social and educational causes he supports including immigration, workplaces free of sexual harassment, equal access to the Internet and offering more apprenticeship programs as alternatives to four-year college degrees.