Tuesday, August 15, 2023

What Governors Do

This, Children, is What Governors Do
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, August 15, 2023, p. A5

When very young my first introduction to the people, rivers, and ducks of China came from “The Story of Ping.” It became one of my favorites.

My dad used to say that children’s constant questions are their 400 little tugs each day, trying to get the world inside their heads. But some of his responses to my stream of questions was just, “That’s the way ducks do.”

I always associated his line with Ping. Though I looked, I can’t find it there now. But it’s still useful.

When a little older my definition of “president” was Franklin Roosevelt. “The way presidents do” was, for me, what FDR did.

For Iowa’s children in their early teens, their definition of “governor” is Governor Kim Reynolds. For them, whatever she says or does becomes, “That’s the way governors do.”

No, it’s not.

And her critics might be more successful showing Iowans what other governors can and are doing than focusing on what she shouldn’t be doing.

My exhibit: Washington State’s Governor Jay Inslee. [Photo from: https://www.jayinslee.com/top-priorities/health-care.]

His impressive experience includes an economics major, law degree and practice, city government (city prosecutor), Washington legislature (four years), U.S. House (13 years), national government (regional director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), country’s longest serving governor (11 years), chair, Democratic Governors Association.

His latest “state of the state” address makes no mention of restrictions on how doctors can practice medicine, professional teachers can teach or the books librarians can provide. No efforts to make life more difficult for LGBTQ people. No increases in his executive power. No curtailing of access to public information for media and other Washingtonians. No refusal to hold press conferences. No cuts in support of the poor. No taxpayer-funded private and religious schools. [No headline-grabbing trip south for Washington’s law officers to stop immigrants.]

What has he accomplished or proposed? Some examples:

Human rights. “Housing is a Human Right” campaign (construction; zoning; $1 billion for homeless and affordable housing); public transportation. More access to healthcare; including immigrants’ and women’s rights. Reduced racial disparities. Marriage equality. Protection of LGBTQ rights. Paid family and medical leave.

Early childhood education and care. Schools provide students mental and educational support, and programs for those with special needs. Reformed criminal justice system. Suspension of executions. Marijuana single misdemeanor offenders pardoned.

Environment. Leading climate change action advocate. Conservation of wildlife habitat; protection for endangered species. Cleaner water and air. [Sustainable agriculture and forestry. Ban on fracking. One hundred percent clean energy goal.]

Economy. Need-related college financial aid (boosted state’s economy). Increased minimum wage. Record low unemployment; 500,000 new jobs. A “Working Families Tax Credit” – rather than tax cuts for Washington’s wealthiest.

The result?

Washington has been ranked the best state in the U.S., second best for business and third best for workers and teachers. Similar to what Iowa’s ranking sometimes was under both Republican and Democratic former governors.

And that, dear Iowa children, “Is the way governors do”!

Nicholas Johnson wonders what Governor Inslee will do next; it won’t be reelection. Contact: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

NOTE: Text [within brackets] was deleted by the editors for space reasons.


Jay Inslee, General. Note: Most of the assertions and items listed in the column are from the following general sources:

Wikipedia: Jay Inslee, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Inslee

“Washington Governor Jay Inslee,” https://governor.wa.gov/

“Jay Inslee Governor,” https://www.jayinslee.com/ (campaign website)

Jay Inslee, “Building a Washington That Works for Everyone,” https://www.facebook.com/WaStateGov

The Seattle Times, use The Times Search feature, enter: Jay Inslee, https://www.seattletimes.com/

Results from Google search for, “Governor Jay Inslee”

Inslee’s experience. See, Jay Inslee, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Inslee

Nation’s longest serving governor. “List of Current United States Governors, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_United_States_governors (“Currently, the longest serving incumbent U.S. governor is Jay Inslee of Washington, having served since January 2013 . . ..”)

State of the state. Jay Inslee, “2023 State of the State Address: Bold actions for building a stronger Washington,” Jan. 10, 2023, https://governor.wa.gov/news/speeches/2023-state-state-address-bold-actions-building-stronger-washington

Accomplishments. Gene Johnson and Ed Komenda, “Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee won’t seek 4th term,” Associated Press, May 1, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/inslee-democrat-2024-climate-450cb6ef6347f0ac04022f079c3c0e13 (“Among his accomplishments he lists a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions in the state and a trio of gun violence prevention measures that he signed into law last month, including a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles that is already being challenged in court by gun rights advocates.

Early this year the state Supreme Court upheld a capital gains tax Inslee promoted as a way to address what was considered the nation’s most regressive tax system.

He also vowed to protect gay rights and abortion access as conservative states constrained them, and he bought the state a three-year stockpile of a popular abortion drug in anticipation of court rulings that could limit its availability.

Inslee said he still has work to do before his exit, including collaborating with legislators and community leaders to address Washington’s homelessness crisis and speeding efforts to broaden behavioral health services.”)

Terra Sokol, “Gov. Jay Inslee Approves Salary Increases for Teachers,” News Radio, 560 KPQ, April 22, 2023, https://kpq.com/gov-jay-inslee-approves-salary-increases-for-teachers/ (“Program supervisors and instructors would make a minimum of $72,728 a year, administration $107,955 a year, and classified staff (paras, office staff, custodians) would receive $52,173 a year. . . . Salary increases total to approximately $1 billion and will go into effect in the 2024-25 school year.”)

Katherine Long, “Could you go to college tuition-free in Washington? Here’s how to find out,” Seattle Times, May 28, 2019, https://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/could-you-go-to-college-tuition-free-in-washington-heres-how-to-find-out/ (“Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a sweeping higher-education bill that will cut the cost of tuition, or make it free, for low- and median-income students. In a tweet, he described it as creating “a statewide #freecollege plan for eligible students.” Nationally, the bill has been hailed as a progressive approach to making college more affordable, and it’s expected to reach up to 110,000 students. . . . The Workforce Education Investment Act replaces the State Need Grant with a new program, the Washington College Grant (WCG), and makes the money an entitlement. Grants can cover up to 100% of tuition plus service and activity fees, and do not need to be paid back. It’s not a so-called “last-dollar” program — a student who qualifies for WCG could also receive a federal Pell grant, for example.

The legislation is built on the idea that Washington’s economy already employs a lot of college graduates, many of whom move here to chase opportunity — yet only about 31% of Washington’s own high-school graduates have earned a degree or credential by the age of 26, according to one study.

Being clear and upfront about who qualifies, and guaranteeing the money, removes the uncertainty surrounding financial aid. That, in turn, should make it easier for school districts and colleges to encourage kids to think about earning a certificate or a two- or four-year college degree, or becoming trained through a registered apprenticeship (also covered) . . ..[Chart indicates declining dollar support as family income increases above $69,000. $10,748 available up to incomes $46,000 or below. Declines to $5374 at $64,000 and $0 at $69,000 and above.]

Claire Withycombe, “Gov. Inslee signs bills to increase housing in WA,” Seattle Times, May 8, 2023, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/gov-inslee-signs-wa-affordable-housing-bills/ (“Many of the bills are aimed at boosting the supply of homes in a state where it’s expensive and sorely needed.

Washington will now allow multifamily housing in many more neighborhoods, encourage people to develop accessory dwelling units, and streamline development regulations, among other policies. The overarching effort to smooth regulatory barriers, like zoning and permits, to building housing garnered bipartisan support.

“We are attacking this problem at its root, which is the lack of housing in the state of Washington,” Inslee said.

The Washington Department of Commerce estimates the state will need about 1 million more homes in the next 20 years.

This year, lawmakers also passed a budget with a $400 million investment in the state’s Housing Trust Fund, which finances affordable housing projects. That money will pay for about 3,000 new rental homes, and help about 250 to 400 households with homeownership, according to the department. . . .

Inslee signed nine bills about 1 p.m. Monday in Seattle at SEIU 775, and signed a 10th bill in a separate ceremony later that afternoon at the Northwest African American Museum, in a nod to the lengthy and harmful legacy of racist policies that kept many Black people from buying homes in certain neighborhoods and from building generational wealth.

House Bill 1474, which sponsors say is the first statewide policy of its kind, will help people who were affected by racist housing covenants designed to keep ethnic and religious minorities out of certain neighborhoods, as well as their descendants, with down payments and closing costs. . . .

Inslee signed nine bills about 1 p.m. Monday in Seattle at SEIU 775, and signed a 10th bill in a separate ceremony later that afternoon at the Northwest African American Museum, in a nod to the lengthy and harmful legacy of racist policies that kept many Black people from buying homes in certain neighborhoods and from building generational wealth.”)

New York Times. Reid J. Epstein, “Jay Inslee Sees Greener Pastures Ahead; After nearly 30 years in elected office, Washington’s governor plans to shift his focus to climate solutions and clean energy, underscoring the need for ‘a sense of optimism and confidence,’” New York Times, May 2, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/02/us/politics/jay-inslee-climate.html (“. . . [O]ne of America’s leading climate hawks.

Mr. Inslee ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination by arguing that the country would have to radically reshape its relationship with fossil fuels and promote renewable energy. . . . [H]is goals later became the blueprint for the climate spending in the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed into law last year. . . .

In 2007, I [Inslee] said we’re going to be driving electric cars. People thought I was smoking the cheap stuff. Well, now we’re buying them so fast that production can’t even keep up.”]

Reid J. Epstein, “Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, Climate Champion, Won’t Seek Re-Election; Mr. Inslee, 72, a former presidential candidate and a leading Democratic proponent of policies to slow climate change, said he would not seek a fourth term,” New York Times, May 1, 2023, . https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/01/us/politics/jay-inslee-washington-governor.html (“Mr. Inslee and the Washington State attorney general, Bob Ferguson, filed a series of lawsuits against Mr. Trump’s administration, challenging policies on its ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, its separation of migrant children from their parents and its unwinding of climate regulations.”)

David Wallace-Wells, “Gov. Jay Inslee Is Taking a Well-Earned Climate Victory Lap,” New York Times, Aug. 31, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/31/opinion/environment/jay-inslee-ira-climate-change.html (“[C]limate has become one of the issues that really holds the Democratic coalition together.

I think the reason for that is because it is such a powerful job creator — a good-paying-job creator. I mean, I can’t turn over a rock in my state where I can’t point to good jobs being created, in Moses Lake, where battery companies are coming in and Lind, Washington, where a solar plant went in and Arlington, where there’s electric planes that are in development. It’s just an explosion and it’s a welcome one. . . .

[In] 2009 or 2010, I brought a Chevy Volt, the prototype for the hybrid electric, to Capitol Hill because I wanted to show my colleagues, “Look what’s coming. Electric cars are coming.” . . . I was just being teased mercilessly by my friends . . .. Now people have a waiting list for the F-150, the Lightning, 10 miles long. . . .

I looked at the Alpine Meadows and thought about how they are at such risk right now. . . . [W]e’ve lost 45 percent of our glaciers — Olympic National Park, and the same thing’s happening on Rainier. It’s just great to see action today, knowing that Alpine Meadows might have a chance for my grandkids.”)

Best state and top priorities:

Best state. Levi Pulkkinen, "Education, Energy and Economy Lead Washington to Top Spot in Best States Ranking; The Evergreen State takes the top spot again in the U.S. News Best States ranking on the strength of its tech sector and other industries," U.S. News, March 9, 2021, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2021-03-09/why-washington-is-the-best-state-in-america ("For the second time, Washington has been named No. 1 in the U.S. News Best States ranking and is the first state to earn the top spot twice in a row.")

Economic Recovery. “Jay Inslee Governor, Top Priorities, Economic Recovery,” https://www.jayinslee.com/top-priorities/economic-recovery

(“During Jay’s tenure, Washington has made historic steps to improve the lives of Washingtonians. In his first term, Jay led Washington out of the Great Recession. By his second term, he brought Washington together to create what CNBC rated the top state for businesses and Oxfam declared the best state for workers.”

https://www.jayinslee.com/about - “Under his clear leadership, Washington helped build an economy that is ranked number one for both businesses and workers.”)

Healthcare. https://www.jayinslee.com/top-priorities/health-care

(“Jay has protected and expanded access to health care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to nearly 800,000 additional Washingtonians, driving uninsured rates to record lows. . . . • Expanded the Affordable Care Act to nearly 800,000 Washingtonians
• Protected those with pre-existing conditions and women’s reproductive rights
• Signed first public health care option in the country
• Passed historic long-term care benefit program so seniors can receive the care they need
. . . Jay has made Washington state a leader in reproductive health care. He helped to pass and sign the Reproductive Parity Act, which requires health plans that include maternity care services to also cover abortion services and for all health plans to cover over the counter contraceptives without a prescription.

We must change how we take care of people who suffer from mental illness in Washington state. That’s why Jay championed and signed legislation to integrate physical services and behavioral health services by significantly transforming the state’s mental health system and reshaping how and where patients receive care.”)

Education. https://www.jayinslee.com/top-priorities/education

(“[He] invested billions in our education system.

These important investments have resulted in increased access to early learning, including all-day kindergarten so that children can start building a foundation at an early age for success. For children with the most need, he pushed to secure $130 million for direct special education services and expand Breakfast After the Bell program to ensure Washington’s kids are focused on learning, not hunger.

Jay values our teachers and he’s worked to increase educator pay more than any other state and to lower class sizes so our educators can focus on giving our children the best possible education. He has also made a commitment to recruit and retain more diverse educators in our schools.”

• Enacted all-day kindergarten
• Raised teacher pay and lowered class sizes
• Funded full and partial college tuition assistance for working and middle-class Washingtonians
• Launched Career Connect to give 100,000 students career-ready apprenticeships and technical training

[The] Workforce Education Investment Act, which ensures full and partial college tuition scholarships are available to working and middle-class Washingtonians. . . . [And the] Career Connect Washington. This program connects 100,000 Washington students with career-ready education like apprenticeships and technical education.”)

Climate; Clean Energy. https://www.jayinslee.com/top-priorities/climate-and-clean-energy

(“Known as the “greenest governor in the country,” he has made Washington state a leader in both the fight against climate change and growing clean energy jobs — something he knows will be vital to our economic comeback post-COVID.

, , , Jay set the state on a pathway to a carbon neutral electrical grid by 2030 and to be powered by 100 percent clean electricity by 2045. We have built the cleanest energy grid in the nation and a $6 billion wind energy industry, while also increasing the use of solar energy and electric vehicles.

• Committed Washington to have a carbon neutral electrical grid by 2030 and 100% clean energy electricity by 2045
• Built cleanest energy grid in nation and helped build a $6 billion wind energy industry
• Signed orca and salmon protections

He led the passage of the greenest transportation package in our state’s history to create an estimated 200,000 jobs.”)

Justice and Safety. https://www.jayinslee.com/top-priorities/justice-and-safety

(“Jay wants to rethink public safety and eradicate systemic racism not just in law enforcement, but in education, healthcare, housing, and other areas of inequality. . . . He issued a moratorium on the death penalty . . .. offered pardons to individuals with misdemeanor marijuana convictions . . .. [and] helped pass bipartisan de-escalation and deadly force standards to ensure there is accountability for police violence.

Jay . . . is working to eliminate Washington’s rape kit backlog.

He has fought . . . gun violence, banning dangerous mass-killing tools like bump stocks, made sure guns are kept out of the hands of high-risk individuals, and supported the passage of voter-approved universal background checks.”)

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1 comment:

Sam Osborne said...

Your column well reflects what dedicated governors do in effort to . . . ah . . . ping along in public service to the people of their states. In dismally failing shadow of such doings, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds displays that she has neither the capacity nor intent to likewise try to get her, ah … ducks in a row. And I should be a bit shagrin about the punning laced into my above comment, but ... this is kids stuff -- oops again.