Today marks the end of the state Legislature’s special session. Lawmakers now need to go into a second special session due to the unfortunate fact that they have yet to pass the 2015-17 operating budget and a much-needed transportation package. If lawmakers fail to succeed in both these endeavors by June 30, the state government may shutdown and on-going work on transportation projects may come to a stop.
This Throw Back Thursday, we are taking a look back on Democrats’ – and especially Jay Inslee’s – leadership failures during the course of the 2015 legislative session and the first special session.
House Speaker Frank Chopp failed to lead
The consequences of failing to complete the House’s constitutional duties of passing a budget are costly. Yet, Democrat state House Speaker Frank Chopp and Inslee remain unconcerned over the prospect of the damage to the state’s economy. Chopp refuses to enter budget negotiations in good faith by calling for a vote on a budget that balances – which would require that his members support the historic tax increases proposed by House Democrats during the legislative session – in order to fund their $39 billion spending wish list.
As for a transportation package, Chopp is taking his cue from Inslee and their far-left special interest donors. He continues to inject hyper-partisan tactics in the transportation negotiation process. Chopp and fellow House Democrat leaders refuse to compromise with Senate Republicans. They refuse to accept key reforms contained within the bi-partisan transportation package passed by the Senate. Instead, House Democrats have demanded all their agenda items while labeling Senate Republican’s consumer protection measure a “poison pill.”
Inslee proved himself an irrelevant leader
Despite all of the House Speaker’s leadership failures, Inslee has managed to exceed Chopp in complete uselessness for advancing the people’s business. Indeed, during the regular legislative session and the special session, our green governor solidified his irrelevance as a leader. Inslee’s failure as a leader stems from his fundamental misunderstanding of his role as governor. As Shift has pointed out, he persistently acts like a “player on the field” rather than a “referee-in-chief,” choosing his extreme priorities over the people’s essential business.
Time and time again, Inslee injected his hyper-partisan agenda (notably his extreme “green” policies) into an already partisan legislative environment. Inslee has not governed. Rather, he repeated what he did during past legislative sessionsand infused D.C.-style politics our state. Inslee has acted and continues to act as an obstructer, not as a “deal-maker-in-chief.”
Inslee’s failure to lead may help explain why, halfway through his first term, he is entering his fifth special session. Comparatively, during the course of two terms, former Gov. Christine Gregoire’s presided over seven special sessions.
Inslee never intended to promote bi-partisanship
Long before the 2015 legislative session even began, Inslee sent a clear message via emails to his supporters based on one theme: partisanship. On November 19, 2014, Inslee sent an email to supporters that opened with a statement foreshadowing how our green governor would approach the upcoming session. The email read, “My Democratic colleagues and I have a very long to-do list for the next legislative session, and there’s not a lot of time to get it all done.” Inslee never intended to complete the people’s business in a timely manner through a bi-partisan effort. For Inslee, it was and is about achieving a specific partisan agenda, even at the expense of taxpayers.
Inslee engaged in hyper-partisan attacks
Throughout the legislative session, Inslee relentlessly championed his extreme green agenda—specifically his cap-and-tax scheme. On December 18, 2014, Inslee revealed that he believes his extreme green agenda takes precedence over achieving a state budget in an email to supporters. The email reads, “This is bigger than just one year’s budget. This is about moving our state in a new direction, and I need your help to get there.” On January 27, 2015, Inslee sent an email for the purpose of garnering public support for his cap-and-tax scheme in the Legislature. The email charged recipients not to let the opposition—i.e. Republicans and taxpayers concerned about their wallets —“stall our progress.”
Prior to the start of the special session, Inslee tasked lawmakers with reconsidering his cap-and-tax scheme, even though he failed to garner enough support among members of his own party to pass it out of the Democrat-controlled state House during the regular session. An email to supporters lists taking action on reducing carbon pollution via a cap-and-tax scheme as one of Inslee’s top priorities for the special session.
Perhaps the most obvious example of Inslee’s D.C.-style leadership is his hyper-partisan effort to promote House Democrats’ agenda by disparaging state Senate Republicans. On February 16, 2015, Inslee sent an email promoting Democrats’ paid sick leave and $12 minimum wage bills (which were really disguised attempts to give more power to unions). On March 5, 2015, Inslee followed-up the email by praising House Democrats for passing the bills and insinuating Senate Republicans have failed to grant their support because the bills “lift up all Washingtonians.” He asked email recipients to “help convince” the state Senate via an online petition.
Formal complaint filed over Inslee’s use of campaign funds during session
Yesterday, the Washington State Republican Party (WSRP) announced it had filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office that asks Attorney General Bob Ferguson to “investigate Inslee’s improper use of campaign funds to advance his left-wing agenda.” The WSRP claims that Inslee “used his campaign funds for grassroots lobbying in support of his big government agenda” and thereby “repeatedly violated Public Disclosure Commission rules.” The party points to examples of how Inslee used his campaign’s email lists and website to lobby people to support his legislative agenda.
Given the costs of an additional special session and the impending threat of a state government shutdown, taxpayers have a right to know whether or not Inslee’s hyper-partisan conduct has been illegal. The Attorney General’s office must conduct an investigation. But, whether or not Inslee illegally used funds to advance his hyper-partisan agenda should not supplant or negate one simple fact: Inslee is a failed leader. He has chosen to act like a partisan player rather than a leader. He has chosen his extreme agenda over the people’s essential business. He has failed to lead.
Three words that should never appear in the same sentence: “Jay Inslee” and “Leadership.”
Eastside Sanity says
Jay Inslee is a failure.