Republican lawmakers who complain that Governor Inslee is not listening to them, should not feel bad, for the governor and his team and not listening to anyone outside their small circle.
While some members of the Inslee Administration were meeting with employers about how businesses could continue to operate safely during the latest wave of the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Inslee and other members of his team were ignoring this work and planning to shut down the state’s economy again.
The Washington Retail Association’s leadership said that it was meeting with the governor’s staff and state health officials, but the Governor chose to ignore this work, along with employers’ concerns, by once again closing or restricting many sectors of Washington State’s economy.
In the process, tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of Washington State workers have lost their jobs. Businesses that were hoping for strong holiday revenues, are now facing the reality of more state imposed restrictions.
While retailers have gone through the expense of installing plexiglass, increasing their cleaning procedures, and purchasing masks and other safety equipment to increase the number of customers they can serve, the governor has disregarded these “data” points, and decided to reduce store capacity to 25% during the holiday season.
Retailers contend that the nature of their business keeps people from standing close to each other for an extended period while shopping. Yet, retailers have found that when stores restrict capacity, waiting customers form lines where they are in close contact with others for long periods, thus increasing the opportunity to spread the virus.
Governor Inslee has said the state will set aside $50 million to help retailers who are being financially impacted by his decision, though that promise is of dubious legality since the governor is not allowed to appropriate money without legislative approval.
Retailers contend this is a “drop in the bucket” to relieve the damage Inslee’s latest attacks on their industry will cause. The $50 million state expenditure means that only 5,000 businesses can receive $10,000 grants, but there are 600,000 small businesses in Washington State.
If only the retailers had done what the state employee unions have done, and given millions to Inslee for previous campaigns, they too could receive a pay increase from the state in the middle of a pandemic.