Rep. Norma Smith (R-Clinton) and Republicans in the Senate and House rebutted major points in Gov. Jay Inslee‘s State of the State address, saying his proposed policies would damage economic growth and would be unnecessary.
“His proposals do, indeed, have a cost. They would increase the cost of our food, our utility bills, and our fuel to get to and from work. And they would hit hard our rural communities,” said Smith, in the remarks delivered in the Republican response to the State of the State.
“Why then, would you put on the table any proposal that has in its crosshairs the very sector of our economy most crucial to our economic recovery and vitality?” she said.
She also said that there has been bipartisan support for such environmental policies as cleaning up waterways and toxic sites, and that she personally is committed to developing renewable energy, but that “there is room for on this issue for reasonable debate.”
“The governor says we need to create a new fuel mandate and new taxes to demonstrate leadership. But his proposals will have almost zero impact on the global challenges we are facing,” Smith said.
“We are absolutely willing to consider pollution-reducing ideas that will work, and that won’t place such a terrible burden on the hard-working people of Washington state, particularly those in the middle class, and those who are struggling,” she said.
Smith also said that the state can fund education through a combination of changes in policy and an additional $3 billion in revenue than originally forecast.
“If we are thoughtful and careful about how we spend your tax dollars, and prioritize, we can balance our state budget without tax increases,” Smith said.
“[W]e must rectify the failure of the past three decades, where leadership in Olympia has allowed non-education spending to dramatically outpace education spending. Simply put: education has not been the top priority. Funding education first would change that,” she said.
Smith joined fellow Republicans representatives Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda) and Dan Kristiansen (R-Snohomish) and senators Ann Rivers (R-La Center), Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) and Linda Evans Parlette (R-Wenatchee) to rebut other parts of the governor’s address, and to answer questions from the media.
Schoesler said that the governor’s proposal on a carbon emissions charge would affect businesses such as food processors, who might move to other states if a charge were imposed. Such moves also could affect mid-sized and small local businesses that provide services to those businesses and their employees, he said.
“Thousands of paychecks are related to that plant,” Schoesler said.
The Republicans also said that the legislature must work to restore public trust in the Washington State Department of Transportation after high-profile snafus affecting major projects.
“We are not talking about any gas tax increase without talking about reforms,” Parlette said.
Parlette also said that during a Legislative session is not the time to talk about creating a capital gains tax, which is a major part of the governor’s proposal to raise general funds.
“I believe if you look at our tax system, you look at holistically,” she said. Parlette also said that any change to the tax structure should go to voters.