Jay Inslee responded to the discrepancy between what he promised as a gubernatorial candidate (no-new-taxes) and what he proposed in his 2015-17 budget (historic tax increase amounting to $3 billion) during a KCTS Ask the Governor interview yesterday evening. In a softball wording of the question, KCTS’ Enrique Cerna asked Inslee, “What has changed now with your decision to go ahead and propose taxes at this time?”
Inslee responded by… dodging responsibility and blaming it on the Legislature—surprise, surprise. Our green governor said that he wanted to close tax loopholes in order to generate the revenue needed to pay for education costs, but the Legislature stepped in the way. He also, once again, implied that the state Supreme Court’s holding of the Legislature in contempt changed the nature of the McCleary decision, somehow making education funding more pressing than what he thought as a candidate.
“I tried to do this in a different way. I did everything I could to do it in a different way,” Inslee said. “The Legislature would not go along.”
Contrary to Inslee’s claims, ending tax breaks would not generate much revenue and certainly would not be enough to pay for our green governor’s historic spending proposals—that’s something even former Democrat Governor Chris Gregoire could tell you. In fact, the tax breaks Inslee proposed amount to a few hundred million dollars, not anywhere near enough to cover the billions more in spending his budget proposes. That’s not to mention the fact that Inslee talking about closing tax breaks is rather hypocritical. Inslee is a champion for tax breaks when it comes to those that benefit his friends and campaign supporters.
As for his contempt excuse, when Inslee made his no-new-taxes campaign promise in 2012, the Supreme Court had already handed down its McClearly decision. Candidate Inslee knew that, as governor, he held the responsibility of ensuring the state budget fully funded K-12 education. Yet, he chose to make the no-new-taxes campaign promise. The Supreme Court’s contempt ruling two years later did nothing to change that reality of the McCleary decision. The facts remain the same. The state carries the same burden regarding McCleary.
Inslee might point to the state Supreme Court’s new mental health decision as adding strain on the budget (its an added cost of about $60 million), as he did during the interview. But, that’s not much of an excuse either. State Senator Andy Hill proved that—when the budget is properly prioritized—it is possible to fund mental health with the state’s current increasing revenue.
We’ve heard Inslee’s excuses before—he uses the same excuses, almost verbatim, whenever he is asked to account for why he shattered his promise to Washingtonians. We suggest Inslee’s people come up with some different excuses as to why he lied to voters. Or, they just consider telling the truth: Inslee never intended to keep his no-new-taxes promise. It was just a campaign gimmick for him.