Opinion

Checking in with Gov. Inslee at roundtable discussion | Editor's Notebook

Gov. Jay Inslee appreciates our newspaper and the rest of the products in our Sound Publishing family.

While sitting in the Bellevue Reporter conference room last Friday, surrounded by a group of our editors and reporters, Inslee remarked: “It’s great to see the success of this industry in local communities.”

While we’ve got our plates full each day covering the local news, Inslee is, of course, an ultra busy man, as well. The governor is whisked from place to place in a black SUV, which pulled into the Bellevue Reporter parking lot with Inslee’s wife, Trudi, and members of his team inside. After about 45 minutes with us, he bolted off to another meeting.

During our visit, we learned that Inslee is still trying to find his own success with an approved transportation bill, which he’d like to see crafted through a bipartisan effort by November come Apple Cup time. Inslee noted that he wanted the bill on his desk in April or May — so time is of the essence with the bill, which would be ideal in identifying $10 billion in revenue sources needed to keep the state’s roads and bridges from failing.

Not just the big bridges, he stressed, but the smaller structures, which are important to our communities. There are many bridges in our state that need fixing: “This is a good chance for Republicans and Democrats to work together. There are no Republican bridges. No Democratic bridges. They are Washington bridges.”

“It’s not a pretty picture,” he added about bridge danger. “I’ve seen a bridge at the bottom of the river.” (He was discussing the Interstate 5 Skagit River Bridge, which was struck by an over-height truck on May 23 and was also listed as being functionally obsolete.)

Inslee also discussed how King County bus service will take a hit if the transportation bill doesn’t come his way soon.

“Everyone’s going to suffer here in the next couple of years if we don’t get the transportation package this year,” he said. “The first thing that’s going to hit them between the eyes is the elimination of bus service.”

It will have an economic toll on the state, he noted. Using Microsoft workers as an example, he added that those people who normally take the bus will now be driving on the road, stuck in traffic and showing up to work later. Companies might not set up shop here because of increased congestion — “It takes economic productivity out of the state,” he said.

One way to approve the transportation plan and close its funding gap would be to close tax loopholes, such as a tax exemption approved for the timber industry that is also being utilized by oil and gas companies.

It was a lot of information to take in during that 45-minute session with the governor. We’ll see how it goes, put our trust in him and those he’s working with and we’re crossing our fingers for a positive result.

 

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