Local legislators react to Inslee's inaugural address

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OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's inaugural address drew criticism from Republican leaders for lacking details, but local lawmakers emphasized the importance of jobs, the Columbia River Crossing and education.

Inslee's inaugural address emphasized job creation, education and transportation issues. In the Republican response given after the Governor's address, Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said, "A lot of nice things were said today, but it was very short on details."

Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, said, "I am certain that those details that Republicans are referring to will come when we get closer to the writing of the legislation." She added that the kind of details Republicans are looking for are not usually found in an inaugural address. "He did a nice job of talking about what his priorities were," she said.

Republicans did approve of Inslee's emphasis on job creation as the main priority of his administration.

Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, said, "I agree that jobs have to be our No. 1 focus."

Inslee's no-new-taxes policy was also viewed favorably.

"I am going to work very hard to help the new governor to keep his promise of a balanced budget without raising taxes," Pike said.

Inslee's address brought up the importance of transportation and international trade to Washington's economy, echoing former Gov. Chris Gregoire's speech the previous day.

Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, emphasized the importance of transportation for Southwest Washington and the entire state. "I hope that (Inslee) is mindful of all the concerns surrounding the project, and the concerns that the Columbia River Crossing represents to the economy."

Inslee also focused on the approximately $1 billion the Supreme Court mandated be spent on K-12 education, and the importance of funding education for students.

Pike said she supports Inslee's efforts to fully fund education, as long as taxes are not increased to pay for it.

Rivers said she is concerned that money for K-12 might be diverted from higher education. "I think that because higher ed is not constitutionally protected. It's one of the places people always go to try to find money" she said.

Stonier also expressed concerns about K-12 taking from other government-supported institutions. "I feel like it's going to be a challenge for all legislators to not pit other priorities in the state against K-12 education" she said.