When a headline can proclaim “Washington state ranks No. 1 for combined job and wage growth,” it is difficult to argue that the governor is doing a poor job. Of course, a governor inevitably receives too much credit or too much blame for the end result, but Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is deserving of another term in office. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends a vote for Inslee in his race against Republican Bill Bryant.
As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian trusts the ability and the desire of voters to examine the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot. In the contest for governor, this will include pressing issues such as job growth, school funding, and the proposal for a large oil terminal in Vancouver. It also will include an administration that has suffered from fits and starts but is moving in the right direction.
A year ago, Forbes ranked Washington among the top 10 states for business climate and also for future job growth, and Inslee recently told the Editorial Board, “The state has played a role in job creation.” Those efforts have focused upon innovative companies, the kind that pay good wages and position the state for a prosperous future, but Inslee also noted that unemployment rates are down in all 39 counties when compared with four years ago. “What we are experiencing is very robust, very vibrant, very diversified job growth in our state,” he said.
There have been other successes, as well. The Legislature has funded all-day kindergarten, expanded early education programs, and lowered tuition at state colleges — an idea first promoted by Republicans. By Inslee’s count, the state has added $5.5 billion to education funding.
These successes outweigh the shortcomings. Most notable is a failure to devise a school-funding plan to meet the constitutionally mandated “paramount duty” of providing for basic education, a duty that has needed more leadership and guidance from the governor. There also have been persistent problems with state’s mental-health system, including the loss of accreditation for Western State Hospital.
So, yes, there have been issues. Yet beyond the measurable results (the aforementioned headline about jobs appeared in The Seattle Times in February) and the day-to-day operations, a governor also must possess a long-term vision.
For Inslee, that vision has focused upon environmental concerns and the reduction of carbon emissions (he says, however, that he opposes Initiative 732 on the November ballot, believing that it would reduce state revenues). Bryant, meanwhile, is a former Port of Seattle commissioner who has suggested a moratorium on new regulations until current ones can be assessed for their effectiveness.
Neither candidate is able to say how they would rule on a proposal for a large oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver, at least until the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council finalizes its report. But we believe “The Green Governor” would be less likely to approve such a terminal.
Bryant is a sharp and articulate challenger, and he is effective in pointing out the shortcomings of Inslee’s performance. His vast experience in international trade would be beneficial as governor of the nation’s most trade-dependent state.
But in the end, Inslee’s focus upon the kind of Washington we wish to create for our children and grandchildren is more essential. The Columbian recommends a vote for Jay Inslee to remain as governor.