Raising the minimum wage, cutting taxes for small businesses and ending tax breaks to fund education were among Gov. Jay Inslee’s priorities outlined Tuesday in his first State of the State Address since he took office.
He said that his previous plan for a “hold steady” budget has been revised in light of the the Supreme Court’s recent order for the state to quicken its pace in funding basic education.
“We need to put several billion dollars more into funding our kindergarten-through-12th grade education system,” he said. “In the coming days I will propose a plan to make an investment of about $200 million in our schools this session.”
Inslee said the proposal also will restore the teacher’s cost-of-living adjustment, which was greeted by applause from the assembled legislators and the gallery.
Inslee called for a $1.50 to $2.50 an hour raise in the state minimum wage, saying that “thousands of working moms and dads
with full-time jobs” sometimes cannot afford to put food on the table. The state’s current minimum wage is the highest in the nation at $9.32 an hour.
He also made the case for a transportation package both to legislators and to voters, who may be asked to approved a new gas tax of more than 10 cents a gallon.
“There are legacy problems the team at DOT still wrestles with, and I understand some of you are frustrated by that. You know what? So am I. But we can’t let issues on megaprojects stop us from moving forward. The 520 bridge has to be finished. We don’t gain taxpayers’ trust by building a bridge that stops before it gets to I-5.”
He urged the Senate to find 25 votes to get a package through.
“I understand this is tough, the goal cannot be for everyone to get everything they want. Instead, we must get agreement on what our state needs,” he said.