Touting Washington’s strong economy, business scene, and beautiful environment, Governor Jay Inslee urged lawmakers Tuesday to use this time to “leave a legacy” that will live on for future residents — a legacy addressing sexual harassment, education, and more.
“Washington is home to the most beautiful collection of fertile wheat fields and towering forests and salty waters on Earth,” Inslee said. “It is true and inarguable that our creator practiced on the rest of the planet and then he created Washington state.”
Takeaways from Inslee’s 2018 State of the State speech
Governor Inslee asked lawmakers to pass a capital budget as the first order of business this session, and spoke to bills they could craft to address gun violence, mental health care, and affordable housing. He called for the end of the death penalty. And he stressed that climate change is an existential threat to Washington, promoting a tax on carbon.
The Trump administration
Despite the onslaught of divisiveness, disorder, and disrespect coming from the White House this year, the people of our state have stood proudly together. The world should know that we will keep standing up for civility, tolerance, and liberty. We will fight to protect Washingtonians’ health care, a women’s right to choose, the right for people to be safe from discrimination, and the right to clean air and water. We will not be intimidated in the State of Washington.
The internet and net neutrality
Inslee said that legislators should use the current session to ensure that Washington state has its own internet protections akin to net neutrality. The FCC recently removed net neutrality policy — a controversial decision. He said it was essential to a modern democracy and economy.
When Washington DC takes away that protection, we must protect net neutrality for our people, for our businesses, and for the virtues of free speech.
Voting and elections
The governor said that lawmakers should pass a voting rights act, automatic registration, and election day registration to make it easier to vote.
Access to democracy is a cornerstone to the enduring health of our nation and our state. So let’s leave a legacy of a stronger democracy by increasing voter participation and equitable representation.
At a time when women’s healthcare rights are under attack throughout our nation, let’s leave a legacy that ensures full access to contraception and allows women to chart their own course. That includes access to long-acting reversible contraception and reproductive parity. And not all of our work is in passing bills. Right now, let’s all — elected leaders and employers alike — commit to inclusive workplaces where everyone is safe from sexual harassment and assault. This is one of the persistent wrongs that our society must make right.
Inslee said legislators can take pride in passing a plan that funds education, complying with the McCleary decision. But he noted that Washington’s Supreme Court still says that the state is late on making those funds available. He also spoke to the state’s higher education and career planning.
The Supreme Court has made it clear that the plan needs to start one year earlier and fortunately we have the reserves to do that. It is crucial that we implement the McCleary plan now, because a child is only a 3rd grader once and they don’t get that year back.
We have got to stop telling our children that a four-year degree is the only path to success. That simply is not true. Let’s leave a legacy of opportunity for all our students by expanding career-connected learning.
Let’s continue our bipartisan legacy of helping Dreamers fulfill their potential in the State of Washington. This is a time of great uncertainty and fear for our Dreamers and their families. Let’s pass legislation now to ensure the availability of college-bound scholarships for Dreamers, even if the federal government fails to renew their deferred action status.
Inslee promoted that lawmakers craft a carbon emissions tax, as British Columbia and California has. He noted Oregon is considering it, and many countries have passed their own. He stressed that it would help move Washington toward the energy economy of the future.
This Legislature recognized this threat a decade ago when it pledged to the people of Washington that we would make our air cleaner and we would reduce carbon pollution. But sadly I have to tell you, unless we act this year that promise by the Legislature will be broken. It is time to step up. Give our citizens what they demand and deserve and what is the law, which is a fight against climate change and the damaging effects of carbon pollution … we have just 59 days to do our part to save our children from a certain, endless cycle of crop-killing droughts one year and rivers spilling over their banks the next; to save salmon from dying in ever-warming waters and our forests being reduced to plumes of ash. We have allowed the unfettered release of carbon pollution into our air. That burden will be carried by our children, our economy our security and our quality of life.
… On this issue there is no geographic divide in our state. The Eastern Washington farmer whose irrigation supply is threatened by low snow pack faces the same crisis as the Western Washington shellfish grower whose baby oysters are threatened by ocean acidification caused by carbon pollution.
… now is the time to join in action and put a price on carbon pollution.