You have to give Jay Inslee credit for one solid achievement in first term. He has united voters across the state – Republicans, Independents and even Democrats – in looking wistfully back at the administrations of his predecessors Chris Gregoire and Gary Locke.
The latest example of how our green governor has made recent governors look so good came to light in a news report over the weekend comparing their use of executive orders in their first four years. Though our green governor’s first term has not yet ended (we’ll have to wait and see if voters come to their senses and reject a second term), Inslee has issued 21 executive orders.
By comparison, Gregoire issued 16 and Locke issued 13 in their first terms.
The Olympian reports:
“In 2014, Inslee issued an order intended to reduce the state’s carbon emissions. With the order came a task force to draft carbon-reduction legislation, and Inslee called for a study of clean-fuel standards and directed state agencies to support clean energy…
“This year, Inslee signed an order intended to strengthen background checks on gun buyers, better collect and analyze data on firearms deaths and institute a statewide suicide-prevention plan.”
Spokesperson Jaime Smith explained that Inslee uses executive orders to “keep things moving in the right direction.” Of course, by Smith’s reasoning, Inslee’s “right direction” is the direction that the majority of the people’s representatives did not agree was the “right direction.”
You see, Inslee was forced to use executive orders for his “right direction” when he failed garner the support of the state Legislature — even, at times, the Democrat-controlled state House.
Though it is true, it’s not something Democrats are willing to admit — especially in an election year.
Democrat state Sen. Kevin Ranker explained Inslee’s heavy-handed use of executive orders in comparison to his predecessors by stating, “I would say the biggest difference between Inslee and governors Gregoire and Locke is that Gregoire and Locke had a Legislature that functioned.”
That sounds like good spin, but it not exactly true.
When Locke took office in 1996, Republicans controlled both houses of the state Legislature (the last time that was the case). Yet, he didn’t feel the pressure Inslee does to issue executive orders to make it look like he was doing something.
What Ranker appears to be saying is that Inslee can only work with a state Legislature that is completely controlled by Democrats. When the Legislature is divided, it doesn’t function.
Of course, we know by history that is not true.
The reality is that Inslee cannot handle a divided state Legislature because he is not a leader. As we have all witnessed through the course of his first term, our green governor prefers to throw highly partisan temper tantrums when faced with any challenge by Republicans — hence his reliance on executive orders.
A GOP Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler pointed out, Inslee’s use of executive orders is a “sign the governor’s agenda isn’t winning sufficient support among lawmakers.” It’s not that the state Legislature does not function, it’s that Inslee cannot function as a leader to make the case for his priorities.
Inslee has yet to make his most dangerous executive order. Inslee’s Department of Ecology is preparing a new version of his carbon rule. By every indication, Inslee plans to jam through that carbon rule by executive order.
Ironically, Inslee’s use of an executive order to establish his so-called “Clean Air Rule” comes after he could not even convince the Democrat-controlled state House to pass his cap-and-tax scheme during the 2015 legislative session.
So much for leadership.