Governor Inslee: We are going forward toward a ‘new normal’

At the start of an historic third term, the governor is charting a course out of the pandemic.

Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his third inaugural address in a way he couldn’t have imagined when he first took office eight years ago.

The raging COVID-19 pandemic prevented the tradition of the governor speaking to a joint session of the Legislature inside the chamber of the House of Representatives.

Instead, he formally launched his third term with a videotaped speech charting a course through continuing challenges and uncertainty wrought by the public health crisis toward “a new normal” and “a new era.”

“Out of the darkness and anxiety of 2020, will come the relief of a new era,” he said. “Let this new era be a time that lifts our hearts; that renews our dreams and ambitions; and that lets us as Washingtonians finally embrace the future we’ve been building up to now.”

The speech was played on the walls of mostly empty House and the Senate chambers as this year’s session is being conducted remotely.

In the House chamber, only Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, was present at the rostrum, along with newly sworn in Lt. Gov. Denny Heck, who also serves as president of the Senate.

Inslee touched broadly on issues he’s focused on making progress in during the 105-day session, including policing reforms, climate change, and achieving greater equity in the application of laws, running of state institutions and providing of public services.

He also vowed “to keep supporting small businesses with every resource at our disposal. And when workers lose pay because they’re sick or laid off, we’re going to help see that their struggles don’t spiral.

“We’re going to get these businesses open eventually, we’re going to get people back to work, and in the meantime we are preparing for that day when we can fully reopen the economy,” he said.

On education, he pledged to continue to expand early childhood education and fund college financial aid programs.

“We’re going to get students back into the classroom, and make sure it’s in safe and healthy settings,” he said, without elaborating on a timeline and means of doing either.

Jay Inslee takes the oath of office for his third term as governor. (Governor Jay Inslee)

Jay Inslee takes the oath of office for his third term as governor. (Governor Jay Inslee)

Absent from the 19-minute speech were details of specific policies and spending proposals he’s put forth thus far.

He did not mention the two new taxes he’s seeking — one on capital gains and the other on health insurers — assumed in his two-year, $57.6 billion budget proposal.

Nor did he delve into his strategy for addressing climate change but made clear its long-term threat cannot be ignored.

“Both the virus and climate change have fatal results,” he said. “Both can be solved through science and ingenuity. We can and we will pursue solutions to both at the same time.”

Inslee is pushing, again, for a clean fuel standard and a carbon pricing approach to cap emissions and generate revenues for the state. Both have stalled in Democratic-controlled legislatures in recent years.

Afterwards, Republicans criticized the speech for its lack of policy details, such as the taxes they oppose, and mention of pressing matters like the state’s sluggish vaccination rate. They called for moving teachers up the line for their shots in hopes of reopening schools sooner.

Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, gave the Republicans’ videotaped response. In it, he called for tapping the state’s emergency reserves to provide low-income families with children a one-time allotment of $300-per-student to assist them with education expenses.

He also called for funding the Working Families Tax Credit which would give tax rebates to eligible families.

Later, in a news conference, House and Senate Republican leaders expressed disappointment that Inslee did not talk about the distribution of vaccines which is critical for halting the spread of coronavirus, preventing the loss of life, and allowing a reopening of commerce and public life.

“We want him to succeed. We need him to succeed,” said House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, adding there are vulnerable people in every family “depending on him to be successful.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Police vehicle damaged after collision (Photo Credit: Renton Police Department)
Renton Police still looking to arrest suspect after officer involved hit and run

RPD spokesperson said suspect fled on foot after causing officer’s injury.

A landslide in December 2019 created a crack in this Fall City road, allowing for a one lane entry and exit. Courtesy of King County Road Services
WA Legislature grapples with funding roads, bridges

Roads and bridges repair programs in King County are underfunded, and state… Continue reading

File photo
Proposed bill aims to trade handcuffs for help when it comes to drug use

Supreme Court decision to strike down drug possesion law leaves oppurtunity to shift paradigm

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
House passes bill to increase financial reporting, transparency by healthcare providers

Bill’s prime sponsor says it will help address healthcare equity and affordability.

“The Color of Flight,” designed and sculpted by Kirk Reese at Sunset Neighborhood Park (photo credit: Renton Municipal Arts Commission)
Renton Municipal Arts Commission is giving grants for community art projects

Grants will be awarded ranging from $500 to $10,000 in an effort to encourage community art.

Freshwater variety of kokanee salmon from Lake Sammamish. File photo
Encouraging numbers for kokanee salmon spawn count

Lake Sammamish kokanee aren’t out of the woods by any stretch, but… Continue reading

In this file photo, Tayshon Cottrell dons his graduation cap and gown, along with a face mask reading: “Wear it! Save America” at Todd Beamer High School’s virtual graduation walk recording on May 20, 2020, in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

Mercer Island School District first-graders returned to in-person classes on Jan. 19, 2021. Here, Northwood Elementary School students head into the building. Photo courtesy of the Mercer Island School District
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

Malden, after a wildfire burned down 80% of the town’s buildings in Eastern Washington. Courtesy photo
DNR commissioner seeks $125 million to fight wildfires

In Washington state last September, some 600,000 acres burned within 72 hours.

Most Read