Republican legislative leaders used a post-inauguration news conference to express concern about several parts of new Gov. Jay Inslee’s inaugural speech.
Richard DeBolt, leader of the House Republicans, said he was nervous about Inslee’s support for new tax credits for clean energy programs, calling those and other Inslee priorities a case of “picking winners and losers.”
DeBolt, R-Chehalis, also criticized Inslee for mentioning support for the Reproductive Parity Act, which would require health-insurance plans that cover maternity care to also cover abortions.
“It was funny that he would take a day of unification and try to make it a politically dividing event,” DeBolt said. “I don’t like special interest politics being brought up in the State of the State address.”
DeBolt and other leaders also mentioned climate change and gun policy as additional concerns.
They also argued that Inslee was not specific enough in his first speech.
“There were a lot of nice things said today, but it (the speech) was very short on detail,” said Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “That’s unfortunate, because the details are what will drive this process through the next 103 days.”
However, the Republicans did see some things they liked. All of the leaders praised Inslee for his prioritization of jobs. And state Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, said she appreciated that Inslee has lived in both Eastern and Western Washington.
The leaders answered questions after a videotaped official GOP response from state Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane.
Parker used his speech to call for an increase in education funding without raising taxes.
The Legislature is currently facing a state Supreme Court order to increase education funding. Democrats generally want to rely partially on new taxes to do that, while Republicans generally do not. Inslee has said he doesn’t think new taxes are needed.
“Gov. Inslee has promised he will not raise taxes, and we stand shoulder to shoulder to him on that,” Parker said. “We have the resources to fund education. We don’t need to raise taxes to do it.”