Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday unveiled a $120 million package of proposals to spur job growth around the state.
The plan includes tax breaks for new high tech companies, funding for aerospace training programs and new oversight ensuring the success of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs. The plan also includes a $50 million investment in clean energy programs.
Inslee also said he expects 10,000 new health care jobs through Medicaid expansion.
He characterized the plan as a “first step” in a broader jobs package. The $120 million price tag does not include funding for transportation projects, he said.
The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent last month, but the Employment Security Department has said recent drops in unemployment may be tied to unemployed job seekers who have stopped looking for work.
When asked how many jobs he hoped the plan would create, Inslee did not offer a specific number.
“More than we have today and enough to justify the investment and enough that it would be inexcusable not to adopt these common sense measures,” he said.
Republican leaders who met with the governor earlier to review the plan said they were open to many of the proposals, but questioned the timing.
“I think we are a little behind schedule. If he is going to run out a 75-part plan, I’d like to see it soon,” said House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis). “It’s one thing to go out and say you are going to change the world and do something different, but if you miss your timelines that doesn’t work for anybody.”
Republican Senate Caucus Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) said they were trying to find common ground with Inslee’s proposals instead of just “throwing rocks.”
“I think we are all very interested in some of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs,” he said. “The problem is for our committee chairmen, we are extremely close to cutoff so if they don’t have budget implications they are going to be hard-pressed for time.”
Republicans have also called Inslee’s tax incentive proposals for high tech companies unfair, claiming he is “picking winners and losers.”
The governor defended the tax breaks on Wednesday, saying the plan identifies sectors where there is a potential for significant industrial growth.
“We want to target the companies that can offer innovative ways to do business,” he said.
TVW taped Inslee’s press conference. Watch it here.