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Olympia Update

Governor’s view of the state differs from reality

OLYMPIA–The main event during the opening week of this year’s legislative session was Gov. Jay Inslee’s annual state of the state address.

I was surprised he did not pull a muscle from patting himself on the back so often as he addressed legislators, statewide elected officials, and Supreme Court justices. Inslee said, “I’m happy to report we have been, we are, and we will always be the strongest state in the nation,” adding “in fact, the state of our state is stronger than ever.”

Not to rain on the governor’s self-congratulatory parade, but Washington is far from being the strongest state in America in some areas. My colleague, 15th District Sen. Nikki Torres of Pasco, delivered the Republican response to Inslee’s address, and she told it like it really is.

“The state of our state is strong thanks to the hard work, heart and spirit of the people of Washington,” Senator Torres said. “But on several important issues, our government has let our great people down. Under one-party rule in Olympia, our state has become less safe, less affordable, and in far too many ways, we are failing our children.”

On public safety, she pointed to our state’s record number of drug overdoses and fentanyl deaths; the unprecedented number of violent crimes, including murders; and how retail stores are being driven out of Seattle and other urban areas due to organized thefts. She rightfully said much of the rising crime in Washington can be blamed on laws passed by majority Democrats in the Legislature.

On affordability, she correctly noted that higher gas prices caused by the governor’s “cap-and-tax” program are making everyday life in our state less affordable. She said, “The so-called Climate Commitment Act does a lot to raise money for government, but nearly nothing to improve our environment or fix our roads. High gas prices are harming low-income families the most, especially those in rural areas, like the ones I represent.” All of us in the 9th District can relate to that.

Schoesler bills this session

I’ve introduced several bills this year. Here is a look at two of my more noteworthy proposals:

• Under Senate Bill 5951, only publicly owned plug-in electric vehicles (not privately owned vehicles) may be charged at state-government offices where such vehicles are used for state business or are commuter vehicles. I was inspired to sponsor this bill after seeing residents of the neighborhood closest to the state Capitol and lobbyists charge their EVs at a state-run charging station on the Capitol campus.

• Senate Bill 5984 is in response to some public four-year universities and colleges in Washington that rely on the expansion of nonresident student enrollment to increase tuition revenue, which means fewer available enrollment slots for resident students. Under this measure, any four-year public university or college in Washington where at least 18% of the previous year’s overall enrollees are nonresident undergraduates would have to contribute $2 million in non-bonded revenue toward its own capital projects for the upcoming two-year period. The message is, if you generate extra revenue by catering to out-of-state students, don’t expect Washington taxpayers to fund all of your construction needs.

– Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, has served the 9th District since 1993.

 
 
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