OLYMPIA, Wash., January 12, 2022 – On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his 2022 State of the State Address in a legislative session at the Capitol in Olympia. His address outlined his proposals to increase spending in the housing, education, transportation sectors, and called on lawmakers to address inadequate housing and climate change policies.
He opened the address thanking health workers, emergency responders, educators, and those working tirelessly throughout the pandemic and expressed condolences to the family of Sen. Doug Ericksen, who passed away in December.
He then turned to the progress he believes must be made to move forward, which mainly includes greater spending to address homelessness and climate change.
“I can encapsulate the state of the state very easily – we need action,” Gov. Inslee said.
Homelessness and Housing Availability
Part of that action includes Inslee’s recently proposed $815 million state supplemental budget that aims to create affordable permanent and transitional housing to reduce homelessness in Washington’s major cities. Two-thirds of this budget would be covered with federal COVID funding.
In his speech, he proposed an additional $125 million investment into the housing sector to address economic and social disparities, which he describes as “the legacy of federal policies that have hurt communities of color.” He also called for lawmakers to remove “antiquated barriers to middle housing options,” such as duplexes and townhomes for all income levels.
“If our children and grandchildren are ever going to be able to afford rent or a mortgage, we simply need more affordable housing,” Inslee said.
Paralleling the sentiments of Superintendent Chris Reykdal, Inslee emphasized his commitment to keeping schools open this year, while simultaneously admitting that “the impacts of necessary closures linger.”
His solution includes reinvesting $900 million into education to help educators address students’ critical needs, suggesting they innovate their own solutions.
“Educators, when empowered, can develop solutions to overcome opportunity gaps,” Inslee said.
Inslee also proposed increasing the number of school counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers available for K12 students to address the mental health needs of students during the pandemic.
Climate Change Policy
The governor also expressed his dedication to climate change policy, pledging to meet the state’s climate goals, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and net-zero by 2050.
“It is our state’s legal obligation as well to reduce emissions, but it’s also a practical and, most importantly, a moral obligation.”
To meet the 2030 goal, Washington would need to reduce emissions by six million more metric tons per year, according to Inslee, the equivalent of 1.3 million vehicle emissions. Inslee sees electric cars as the solution, proposing that the state give families thousands of dollars in rebates to make the switch.
Inslee also sees improvements in public transportation as an invaluable means to address climate change.
“We need more transportation and less pollution at the same time,” Inslee said, describing Washington’s “aging” transportation system. He also proposed new requirements for diversity and inclusion within the transportation sector.
Inslee also discussed salmon recovery project proposals as part of his action against regional climate change.
The Republican Response
Senator Chris Gildon (Puyallup) gave the Republican response State of the State speech by Governor Inslee. In addition, Senate Republican Leader John Braun commits to returning affordability back to the state and House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox called for balance.
“It has been almost two years since our system of government has been turned upside down when implementation of the emergency order muted that voice of the people,” Sen. Gildon said.
Gildon called for a return of representative government representing the “voice” of the people. He stated that with the projected $10 billion surplus over the 4-year budget cycle, legislators should offer tax relief and not more taxes.
The Republicans propose the following affordability measures:
- Exempt the first $250,000 of property tax from a primary residence
- Eliminate B&O taxes for the manufacturing sector
- Eliminate the Capital Gains Tax
- Eliminate the Long-term Care Tax
- Remove the tax and regulatory barriers to build more housing
Republicans also called for a commitment to public safety criticizing recent legislation passed last year as to contributing to “25-year highs in crime” and a “50% increase in drug overdoses” within the last five years.