Gov. Jay Inslee’s vetoes hurt rural and coastal communities

In his state of the state address on Jan. 11, Gov. Jay Inslee did not mention rural economic development once nor did he acknowledge the high unemployment numbers in many rural and coastal communities. The closest he came to acknowledging the challenges facing these communities was, “…we need to continue important conversations on issues like … how we promote prosperity for all workers in a changing economy.”

Republicans in the Legislature led these important conversations in the 2017 legislative session. These discussions, with input from stakeholder groups such as local governments and schools districts, resulted in bipartisan legislation passing and being sent to the governor’s desk. That’s the good news.

The bad news: Gov. Inslee vetoed or partially vetoed some important bills that would have helped with economic development and assisted with school construction in rural and coastal communities. In doing so, he put the interests of environmentalists ahead of struggling families and students. Here are the examples:

  • Senate Bill 5790 would have provided rural counties and cities more flexibility under the Growth Management Act and allowed them to adjust development plans to boost economic growth in times of economic challenges. It would have also allowed counties to provide for job creation and economic development in their comprehensive plans and required Growth Management Hearings Board to give deference to local elected officials’ economic development decisions when their communities face economic hardship. Gov. Inslee vetoed Section 3 of the legislation.

If Gov. Inslee cares about economic development and schools in rural and coastal communities, these vetoes and his controversial environmental agenda suggest otherwise. Since entering into office in January 2013, he has pushed for proposals, such as a new carbon tax, that would hurt these communities by increasing the costs of energy, gas and energy on their residents. These proposals also threaten jobs and the state’s economic advantage of low-cost energy.

Fortunately, Gov. Inslee’s environmental agenda has been met with bipartisan resistance in the Legislature. He has failed to even advance his boldest proposals through a Democratically controlled state House of Representatives. When House Democrats proposed nearly $8 billion in new taxes this year, they ignored Gov. Inslee’s new carbon tax proposal. Moderate Democrats and Republicans understand these controversial ideas would only add to the serious challenges facing rural and coastal communities.

We will continue to push for bipartisan, common-sense legislation that promote economic development and help the communities that need it the most around our state. Learn more about our rural economic development proposals here.