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Inslee Says He’s Undaunted And Optimistic About Climate Programs, Even After Election

Undaunted and optimistic – that’s the attitude Gov. Jay Inslee says he has about working with the legislature after Tuesday’s elections.

The governor says the state Supreme Court mandate to fund K-12 education under the McCleary decision should prod lawmakers to work together, even with the status quo of a Republican-controlled Senate. 

“Yes, I wish there would have been more changes in the Senate. But I believe with the order by the state Supreme Court holding the state in contempt and with the clear science that early-childhood education and all-day kindergarten is now making such a huge difference, we’re going to have a greater bipartisan interest in finding a solution in this than maybe in the last session,” he said.

And taking steps to limit carbon pollution that causes global warming could also solve state budget problems, said Inslee, who insisted he is looking forward to getting back to work in Olympia, even after elections that didn’t go so well for his party. 

In less than two weeks, Inslee’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce will present its recommendations to the governor on a market-based system to address carbon pollution. Inslee says even though the looming new regulations could face tough opposition from Republicans who still control the Senate, he’s optimistic about the potential for bipartisan solutions. He says a cap-and-trade system or carbon tax could generate badly needed new revenue.

“I think there is a possibility of developing sort of a grand bargain or a grand consensus that we address multiple issues: funding for our k-12 system, transportation, maybe some other infrastructure programs and carbon pollution,” Inslee said.  

Inslee says lawmakers have to act on the McCleary mandate. What's more, they are also in contempt of court unless they find more money to pay for mental health services and to install new salmon-safe culverts. He says it’s also the law that the state reduce its carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. 

Inslee says he is leaning toward a cap and trade system like the ones used in California or by the nine northeastern and mid-Atlantic states known as RGGI, but he remains open to the recommendations from his task force. Its proposal is due on Nov. 17.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to