Gov. Jay Inslee challenged state legislators to adopt cleaner fuel standards and cut in half the number of homeless people living without shelter in his annual State of the State address on Monday. The address was to a joint session of the state Senate and House.
Inslee has proposed withdrawing as much as $300 million from state savings to help cities create shelters and services for the homeless. The state Commerce Department estimates that 10,000 people are living statewide without shelter. Read a Washington Policy Center analysis of this proposal here.
“I’ve seen this growing crisis firsthand,” he said. “I’ve seen how it affects Centralia, Bellingham, Spokane, Tacoma and Bremerton. Our goal is to reduce by half the number of people living outdoors in the next two years.”
Inslee also underscored a familiar theme of his two terms in office; his desire to continue addressing climate change. He called on the Legislature to adopt cleaner fuel standards that would require fuel producers and importers to reduce carbon emissions similar to programs in Oregon and California.
Inslee’s opponents note that the costs of these goals may be unreachable or impractical. Though Inslee did not identify revenue sources in his speech, the Legislature is expected to consider business and personal tax increases during its current 60-day short session.
Republican Senator John Braun of Centralia delivered his party’s reply to the Democrat Inslee.
“We need to keep that money (for homelessness) in the rainy day fund for when the state economy slows,” he said. “That’s what the voters intended.” It would take a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to draw from state savings because homelessness is not considered a state emergency, according to an analysis by the Washington Policy Center.
As for adopting cleaner fuels, opponents have maintained that it will result in prohibitive increases in fuel and transportation expenses, something they say will harm the state economy.
Inslee is a candidate for a third term as Governor in the upcoming November election. He enjoys Democrat majorities in the state House of Representatives and Senate. Regardless, he appealed to the Legislature for bipartisanship to achieve his goals in a third term in office.
“We experience the best of Washington when we come together,” he said.
Click here to watch highlights of the speech.
Sources: KIRO television, seattlepi.com