New Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called on lawmakers to find a bi-partisan approach to solve the state’s nearly $1 billion deficit during his inaugural address on Wednesday.
After being sworn in as the state’s 23rd governor, the Democrat told a joint session of the 63rd Legislature he plans to reach out to members from both parties to achieve his agenda.
“I want us to collaborate early an often,” Inslee said
Only three days into the 105-day legislative session, a Republican-controlled majority has already taken power in the Senate, threatening gridlock.
Inslee promised to work with the Senate’s new majority coalition and its chosen leader, Rodney Tom (D-Medina).
In addition to the $1 billion deficit, the legislature must find the money needed to satisfy court’s McCleary decision on education funding. Inslee has promised not to raise taxes and has said his focus will be on streamlining government.
The new governor said he will focus on gun control legislation in the wake of the deadly school shootings in Connecticut last month.
“Common sense tells us that this solution will involve mental health and keeping guns out of the wrong hands,” Inslee said.
Inslee also touched on health care in his first day on the job, promising to sign legislation that would require insurance companies to cover abortions if they also cover live births as outlined in the Reproductive Parity Act. The partisan response from lawmakers signaled the legislation faces a tough road if it eventually lands on Inslee’s desk.
The new governor also said the state must work hard to implement the Affordable Care Act, saying Medicaid expansion will save the state money.
Education funding is expected to be closely watched in Olympia during the 2013 session and Inlsee said he will “act immediately to sharpen the relationship between our schools and the economy they are preparing our young people to enter.”
He also stuck with familiar themes from his campaign, including clean energy job growth and improving transportation infrastructure. Inslee supports tax credits for clean energy programs.
“These jobs won’t just fall into our laps. Washington has what it takes to win, but the clean energy race is highly competitive.”
The speech kicked off a busy day for the new governor, which will conclude with tonight’s Inaugural Ball on the Capitol Campus.