From Brad Shannon and Jordan Schrader:
State House and Senate Republicans offered mixed reactions to Gov. Jay Inslee’s inaugural remarks this afternoon – praising his focus on jobs, his interest in a leaner, results-driven government and an Inslee reference to the government’s “customers.”
But House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt of Chehalis took offense during a post-speech press conference to one remark from the new governor. Inslee had said he will sign the Reproductive Parity Act – which ensures that health plans offering maternity also cover abortion services – if lawmakers send him the bill.
DeBolt said Inslee had taken a “day of unification and try to make it a politically dividing event.’’ He added: “I don’t like seeing special interest politics being brought up in the (inaugural) speech.’’
Inslee pledged to fight the scourge of a warming climate and increasingly acidic oceans by promoting renewable fuels, saying it’s “our destiny to lead the world in clean energy.”
But Rep. J.T. Wilcox, the House Republican floor leader from Yelm, echoed a common Republican theme that favoring the clean-energy industry would amount to “picking winners and losers,” and said: “His point of view is, we’re going to bet the state on it. I’ve never felt that’s a smart strategy.”
Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler argued: “We have very clean energy. It’s called hydro,” a reference to Washington’s reliance on hydroelectric dams in place of greenhouse-gas burning plants. And DeBolt took issue with Inslee’s assertion that scientists are agreed on global warming.
Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, gave his party’s formal response, which was televised by TVW shortly after Inslee finished his roughly 30-minute speech. In his response, Parker, a small business owner, talked of the need to empower businesses and he criticized Democrats for years of unsustainable budgets.
Democrats control the House of Representatives, but a coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats has seized control of the Senate, which is giving the GOP a larger voice as the new governor took office.
Republicans speaking at the press conference that followed Inslee and Parker were quicker to point out areas of agreement with the Democratic governor – including the jobs emphasis, making reforms to public schools, using the “Lean” management techniques of Boeing and Toyota to eliminate waste.
Asked if Inslee inspired them in any way, Senate Republican Caucus chair Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee pointed to the fact that Inslee has lived in both eastern and western Washington.
Several Republicans also agreed with Inslee that the true measure of success would be the outcomes of policies, not the amount of money spent.
Schoesler, of Ritzville, said he had talked to the new governor several times and “we haven’t had a disagreement yet.” He said he believed there is room to work with the governor on regulations that now get in the way of legitimate activities.
And Wilcox praised Inslee for his calls for change and his implicit criticism of the way state government has run.
On gun safety, the GOP like Inslee was reluctant to say much specific – even whether they would support President Obama’s proposals to limit the size of gun clips and outlaw assault rifles. “Sometimes we read the bills before we comment,’’ Schoesler quipped.
But Schoesler said they agree with Inslee that mental health is a priority. DeBolt said much the same.