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Ask the Governor

Gov. Inslee Asks Courts to Declare I-1366 Unconstitutional

November 10, 2015

Washington Governor Jay Inslee took questions from Washington residents ranging from education funding to medical marijuana reform on Tuesday, Nov.10, 2015, in a live KCTS 9 Ask the Governor broadcast from the University of Washington. Livestreamed and fed to public media stations statewide, this was Inslee’s third Ask the Governor since his 2012 election. 

Watch the live recorded event online.

Coming just days after the state’s off-year elections, host Enrique Cerna opened the forum by asking Inslee to react to the passage of Initiative 1366. The Tim Eyman-supported measure gives the State Legislature a choice to either reduce Washington’s sales tax by a penny or approve a constitutional amendment to require a super majority vote to raise taxes.

Inslee said the initiative is “an unconstitutional attempt to deprive citizens of their Constitution,” adding that he believes “it will ultimately and quickly be ruled unconstitutional.” But he urged that a ruling come quickly. “Please deliver it in a timely fashion,” he asked, presumably to the courts. 

During the hour-long forum, the governor took on questions from the audience and Twitter, and answered previously recorded video questions.

Responding to Seattle Mayor Murray’s declaration of a “homeless state of emergency,” Inslee observed that in Seattle it is “the best of times and the worst of times. There are homeless tents next to construction cranes.”

Medical marijuana was the subject of many questions asked and in the queue, with the chief concern being how patients would be able to access affordable marijuana, given how the state is folding the medical dispensary market and the legal recreational market together.  

[It is] the best of times and the worst of times. There are homeless tents next to construction cranes.

There were several questions about how the governor can persuade the legislature to comply with the McCleary Decision, in which the State Supreme Court has not only held the legislature in contempt but also imposed a $100,000 per day fine for noncompliance in fully funding K–12 education. A grassroots education funding advocacy group had greeted the audience going into the hall with signs and placards, and they applauded Inslee’s remarks on fully funding K–12 education and complying with the McCleary Decision.

Inslee said he has “an active effort to get a plan out of the legislature,” and there are talks going on now.  He said that a less public, less confrontational approach will lessen the resistance of his Republican opposition.  But, he said, as the legislature begins a new session, “I don’t want to see a bunch of legislators walking around collecting per diem with nothing being done.”

In other education subjects, Inslee advocated changing the emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to STEAM, adding the arts as a critical educational goal.

As to whether Washington will offer free community college education, Inslee said, “Ideally we’d move in that direction over time.” He also cited a competing priority in the financial obligations of providing mandated funding for K–12 education.

There were questions about how the state can help keep the University of Washington a top-ranked research university, and how to help students avoid the crushing debt of tuition costs.  Inslee congratulated the state on being the only state in the U.S. to lower tuition.  When told by a UW custodian that the janitor crew at UW was overworked and underpaid, causing a shortage of staff, Inslee admitted that state workers were leaving their jobs in every sector because of pay issues.   

When asked whether he was going to approve a $400 million Spokane Indian casino proposed for the Spokane Valley, a project the feds have approved, Inslee held off: “We’re doing due diligence on this. We’ll make the right decision, but we’re just not making it right now.”

Inslee heaped scorn upon legislators from Clark County when asked why there isn’t yet a new bridge connecting Clark County with Oregon.  A previous project was voted down because of a rail component.

“Two legislators from Clark County killed that project because they didn’t like light rail.  They thought light rail was some sort of Communist conspiracy.  We let $150 million of taxpayer money go down the drain,” he said. “It would be helpful if [Clark County] would send us legislators who believed in the future.”

As for expanding state tolls on highways, the governor denied being interested in tolling on I-5 but said I-90 presented some tolling possibilities with special access lanes.

In other transportation topics, Inslee congratulated the legislature for this year passing the largest and “greenest” transportation package in the history of the state.

With Cerna roaming the audience with a mic, an attendee asked what the state intended to do with increasing forest fire threats. Inslee responded with a basic primer in climate change: forests in our state were “an explosive bomb” because of the effects of warming, causing forests to be particularly susceptible to devastating fires.  

A questioner asked the governor about his support for the Voting Rights Act. Inslee said one party was responsible for trying to suppress the vote and that it was “despicable.”

Inslee noted that Yakima elected three Latinas to the city council, the first time that a Latino has gained a seat there.

After the live element was finished, Gov. Inslee stayed to take remaining questions from the audience.  



Stephen Hegg

Stephen is a 25-year veteran of KCTS, producing a wide range of cultural and public affairs series, documentaries and arts programming.  His credits include PIE, Something in the Water  (PBS feature on Seattle’s indie music scene), the gala opening of Benaroya Hall, and documentaries on Asahel and Edward Curtis, Dan Sullivan and Doris Chase.  Seattle-born, Hegg is a graduate of Whitworth University and is also an accomplished violinist and avid cyclist.

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