NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

Governor Inslee delivers first in-person State of the State Address since pandemic’s onset

Today in Olympia, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee appeared before a joint ses­sion of the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture, as he has for the past decade, to deliv­er the annu­al State of the State Address, shar­ing his thoughts on Wash­ing­ton’s well being and lay­ing out his pri­or­i­ties for his eleventh year in office as the state’s chief executive.

This was the first State of the State Address to be deliv­ered in-per­son since 2020, the year that COVID-19 began spread­ing rapid­ly through­out the U.S. and the world. The last two ses­sions of the Leg­is­la­ture were both held remotely.

Inslee start­ed off the speech by tout­ing recent leg­isla­tive suc­cess­es, such as enact­ing paid fam­i­ly leave as well as trans­for­ma­tive cli­mate action leg­is­la­tion, con­tin­u­ing to build more homes, and improv­ing the behav­ioral health sys­tem, to name a few. But, progress is still need­ed in Wash­ing­ton, and the gov­er­nor quick­ly began dis­cussing what still needs fix­ing in the Ever­green State.

Inslee first addressed ris­ing rates of home­less­ness in Wash­ing­ton, and under­scored that “the fun­da­men­tal, under­ly­ing chal­lenge is that we don’t have enough hous­ing”. The gov­er­nor stat­ed that he wants to “go big” on hous­ing this ses­sion. He pro­pos­es to do that through “a $4 bil­lion ref­er­en­dum that will sig­nif­i­cant­ly speed up the con­struc­tion of thou­sands of new units”.

“When it comes to build­ing afford­able hous­ing, our Hous­ing Trust Fund has been our pri­ma­ry tool for decades,” Inslee noted.

“Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we can only adjust that dial a lit­tle bit here and there. And we’ve been adjust­ing it up every bien­ni­um since 2013 — $30-$50 mil­lion at a time.”

“It isn’t enough. If there was ever a time to go big, it’s now.”

“This ref­er­en­dum will fast-for­ward our abil­i­ty to build,” the gov­er­nor added.

“Impor­tant­ly, it offers us the scale and speed we need. Scale and speed are nec­es­sary for mar­ket-rate devel­op­ment, too. Res­i­den­tial zon­ing restric­tions block pri­vate devel­op­ers from build­ing denser and more afford­able options.”

“The state has been and will con­tin­ue doing its part to shore up capac­i­ty,” Inslee told leg­is­la­tors and guests. “We’ve added hun­dreds of foren­sic beds since the True­blood tri­al in 2015, and we plan to add hun­dreds more.”

Governor Inslee listens to the national anthem before State of the State

Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee lis­tens to the nation­al anthem ahead of the 2023 State of the State Address (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Then, Gov­er­nor Inslee talked about edu­ca­tion, and men­tioned to the assem­bled body that his “bud­get pro­pos­al increas­es K‑12 spend­ing by $3 billion.

“Meet­ing the social and emo­tion­al needs of our stu­dents has been an impor­tant effort, and I com­mend this Leg­is­la­ture for mak­ing his­toric invest­ments last year to increase fund­ing for schools so they can hire more nurs­es, coun­selors, psy­chol­o­gists and social work­ers,” the Gov­er­nor said.

Next, the Gov­er­nor moved to an issue he holds dear — com­bat­ing cli­mate dam­age. He spoke of shift­ing Wash­ing­ton’s focus “to imple­men­ta­tion and invest­ment,” such as increas­ing the state’s abil­i­ty to do R&D, “bol­ster our trans­mis­sion infra­struc­ture,” and more, includ­ing a con­tin­ued focus on “salmon recov­ery actions”.

“It was fan­tas­tic to join Sen­a­tors Joe Nguyen and Matt Boehnke in Tri-Cities last month to talk about the poten­tial for a new Insti­tute for North­west Ener­gy Futures at Wash­ing­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty,” said Inslee. “This insti­tute will put the region at the glob­al fore­front of clean tech innovation.”

On the pub­lic safe­ty side, the gov­er­nor asked for more fund­ing for law enforce­ment and gun safe­ty train­ing, but his head­line request of the Leg­is­la­ture is “to ban the sale of mil­i­tary-style assault weapons”.

“These weapons are designed for the sole pur­pose of destroy­ing lives — the lives of school chil­dren, law enforce­ment offi­cers, con­cert-goers, night­club patrons, and peo­ple gath­ered in hous­es of wor­ship,” Inslee somber­ly observed.

And final­ly, Inslee talked about an issue that Democ­rats cam­paigned fierce­ly on in 2022: “the rights of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans seek­ing repro­duc­tive care”.

He called on leg­is­la­tors to keep Wash­ing­ton a pro-lib­er­ty state for all, includ­ing refer­ring to vot­ers a new con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment “that express­ly estab­lish­es a fun­da­men­tal right to repro­duc­tive free­dom in Wash­ing­ton state”.

“The Dobbs deci­sion last year on the nation­al lev­el upend­ed decades of prece­dent that assured peo­ple across the coun­try had at least some mea­sure of con­sti­tu­tion­al pro­tec­tion for abor­tion care and con­tra­cep­tion,” said Inslee.

The Gov­er­nor con­clud­ed his remarks by thank­ing leg­is­la­tors for their service.

“You have each left your hearth and home to come here to serve your con­stituents and fur­ther the progress and suc­cess of our state,” Inslee said.

“And when you do so, you will strive and toil to enact poli­cies, and yet may nev­er know many of the actu­al peo­ple you’ve helped.”

The 2023 leg­isla­tive ses­sion began yes­ter­day and will run until April 23rd, 2023.

Adjacent posts

  • Enjoyed what you just read? Make a donation

    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local politics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you and trust­ed spon­sors. We don’t run ads or pub­lish con­tent in exchange for money.

    Help us keep The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent and freely avail­able to all by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute today. Or make a dona­tion to sus­tain our essen­tial research and advo­ca­cy journalism.

    Your con­tri­bu­tion will allow us to con­tin­ue bring­ing you fea­tures like Last Week In Con­gress, live cov­er­age of events like Net­roots Nation or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and reviews of books and doc­u­men­tary films.

    Become an NPI mem­ber Make a one-time donation

  • NPI’s essential research and advocacy is sponsored by: