Inslee’s legislative agenda focused in budget

By Grace Swanson/WNPA Olympia News Bureau

Along with his education-funding proposal, Gov. Jay Inslee also spoke about his decision of a temporary suspension of the death penalty, his stance against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), his opioid-epidemic initiative, higher wages for state employees, and reformed mental health treatment at the news media briefing Jan. 5 in Olympia.

“It’s a great day in the State of Washington. It’s sunny and we’re in a season of great opportunity,” Inslee greeted the group of journalists with enthusiasm and a broad smile.

He then responded to questions on his temporary death penalty moratorium among other issues of the day as the 2017 legislative session loomed.

“The question is whether the State of Washington in the name of the State of Washington will execute its citizens based on a system that is grossly inequitable, extremely expensive, and does not deter crime,” he said. “The answer is – while I’m governor – no, that will not happen.”

The death penalty would be replaced with a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. He hopes the legislature will act on abolishing the death penalty during this session.

When asked about Washington State’s contingency plan if the United States Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without replacement, Inslee said he is focused on standing up against this “scam.”

More than 700,000 Washingtonians would lose insurance coverage if the ACA were revoked without a replacement plan. Inslee admitted that he does not currently have a contingency plan, but encourages citizens to let their voices be heard in response to Congress’ proposed repeal.

Inslee’s opioid-epidemic initiative, a multi-faceted approach, involves prevention, improved treatment, and better access to mental health treatment and life-saving medications.

Again, he reiterated the negative effects of the Federal Government’s plan to repeal the ACA.

“Opioids are bad enough without removing health insurance from people who need it to deal with these problems right now,” he said.

His proposed budget also includes funds for raising the wage for state employees. He hopes that increasing pay will lead to higher employee retention. Also included in his budget are finances to reform and expand mental health treatment.

“I have proposed a new way to reform how we provide mental health care,” Inslee said. “I am confident it will be much more effective.”

(This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation. Reach reporter Grace Swanson at