KIRO Radio's Dori Monson had a tough time convincing the last Washington governor to come on his show, but was pleased when her replacement agreed to an interview.
"I'm very impressed because a lot of politicians tell me on the campaign trail that they'll come on my show after they're elected. You're actually one of the few that's following through on that promise," Dori said Wednesday when Governor Jay Inslee joined him on the air.
"It's great to hear your voice," the governor responded.
Dori and the governor started out easily enough with some basketball chit-chat, questions about Dori's coaching, and then the host quickly moved on to pressing matters.
"Can I get the tough stuff out of the way early, before we get to the cordial stuff?" said Dori. The two then went to-to-toe on "new taxes," and who should be responsible for government mistakes.
The first point Dori brought up with the governor was an item on his recently released state budget.
"A couple weeks ago, you unveiled your state budget. One of the things you would like to see is an extension of some taxes, that were temporary taxes, like the beer tax" said Dori. "You told me no new taxes, and this tax was supposed to expire, you want to extend it, that's a new tax on people isn't it?"
Inslee responded saying he doesn't see this as a new tax because it's something that people were already paying.
"My view is this does not increase taxes on what people are paying right now," said Inslee. "My view is just sort of mathematical principals […] which is, if it doesn't go up, it's not an increase, and this is not going up. We are continuing an existing level of taxation."
But Dori said if a tax is presented originally as one that will be temporary, people should be able to trust that.
"An alternative, I suppose, could have been to eliminate those taxes and just create another tax or revenue somewhere else and I'm not sure what the difference would have been," said Inslee, pointing out that they need $3 billion to $4 billion additional for education as ordered by the Washington State Supreme Court.
"This is a new $4 billion obligation of the state on top of inflation, on top of the increasing number of kids we have, on top of the number of seniors that need long term care, on top of medical inflation that we're experiencing, it's on top of all those things, so if you did accept the proposition that we'll just put this on autopilot and have an inflation budget you would be in violation of the Washington State Supreme Court, you also would be facing a reality - and this is just a harsh reality."
Next up, Dori wanted to know why Washingtonians have to pay for the government's mistakes, like in the case of the 520 Bridge project, which have cost the public millions.
"This was a problem that was dumped in your lap, but it's a significant problem," said Dori. "I'm seeing 9-figure mistakes being made, hundreds of millions of dollars wasted because of the inability to manage a project and I look at that and I say, 'and they come to us for more money for the fixes when it's mismanagement that got us into this position.'"
Inslee thanked Dori for pointing out that the problems with the 520 bridge happened before he took the office, and said thankfully, they do have fixes in place, but that it was definitely a big screw up. They need to move on.
"I guess the question is: why don't we just pull the plug on the 520 bridge? Why do we think we should continue to make investments in our transportation system even though there was foul ups by some design engineers, and it's the same reason we should continue to fly the Boeing 787. Look, there were some problems in that design or manufacturing process, but we've got to identify those problems, have people take responsibility for them, whoever made those mistakes, and we're going to make sure that happens, and move on. I just think that's what we've got to do."
But Dori doesn't like the Boeing example because he says the aerospace company doesn't get to lean back on its shareholders to make up for the damage.
"Boeing doesn't go to its shareholders and say we screwed up, give us more money, and I see government do that all too often."
To that Inslee said, what do we do then? "Dori, you're governor. Tell me what you would do about that?"
Of course, Dori had a response:
"You've got a sounder train - I know this is a separate jurisdiction than state government - but you've got a Sounder train where we're wasting hundreds of millions of dollars for a thing that's closed by mudslides and carries empty cars, a two-car train that goes up and down the tracks. You've got Sound Transit that's billions of dollars over budget, years behind schedule. We have wasted so much money on phony transportation fixes. I would eliminate the useless and I would put it into things that are useful like the 520 bridge."
But Inslee stood his ground on light rail and reminded Dori that voters approved its expansion.
"This is a decision we've made as a region. I agree with it," said Inslee.
Dori did not forget to complain about money wasted on the arts.
"I don't need the salmon over the overpass," said Dori.
To that, Inslee told Dori he's looking forward to a friendly match up on the basketball court.