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MunicipalI’m Washington Governor Jay Inslee. (My staff is making me do this.) - AMA

Mar 19th 2015 by GovInslee • 13 Questions • 650 Points

Hi reddit, I’m Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington state. My state leads on climate issues and heath care but also has the most unfair tax system in the nation. As a start on fixing that, this year I proposed a capital gains tax that impacts less than 1% of our top earners. I also proposed a carbon pollution charge on the state’s top polluters (cap and trade) to help fund education and transportation.

I’m a longtime supporter of Net Neutrality (my credentials go back to my time in Congress).

You may know me from my non top ten book Apollo’s Fire. Or my non-Oscar winning performance in the 2005 hit “The Deal” with Christian Slater.

Proof: https://twitter.com/GovInslee/status/578617896521216000

My staff wrote my bio, but I’m answering the questions (from 1-3pm PT.) Let’s get to it.

EDIT We're out of time. Sorry I couldn't answer the question about time travel, I have a meeting in 2021 I have to get to.

Q:

What is it like to get lobbied?

A:

It's like when your kids tell you they want to go to Disneyland.


Q:

Governor Jay Inslee:

I smoked for 23 years until I encountered one of the newer-generation vape devices. I was able to use it to completely stop smoking, and have been cigarette-free for almost a year now. My level of nicotine has consistently dropped in this period. I started at 18mg/mL, and am now on 6mg/mL (and soon 3). This has very likely saved my life, as well as the lives of anyone who used to be near me when I smoked cigarettes.

When the 95% tax on tobacco products was put forth, one of the goals was to get people to stop smoking. Now that people are stopping smoking, you're finding yourselves short on cash because the tax revenue from smokers isn't as much as you had projected. Instead of letting it be and stopping the unfair and unnecessary punishment of this particular group of people you are now doubling down and hitting their most viable exit strategy from tobacco consumption. Why is this? Why does one group of people get repeatedly unfairly punished via the taxation system? Do you think that's legal? Do you think it's moral? Do you think that's ethical?

With vaping having no proven secondhand effects, the possible boon to public health is not just for the smokers, either. There are a number of public health officials who have stated this is vastly less harmful for the now-former smokers, and harmless to those around them. Why do we need to stop or curtail a behavior that is essentially harmless to non-participants?

On the topic of flavor bans, why are these flavors on the chopping block to be banned in vaping, but I can still get all the same flavorings in alcohol?

I vape, and I vote, and I live in Washington State. Thanks for this AMA, and I very much look forward to your responses.

A:

I've followed the vaping debate during this AMA. The diverse viewpoints show why this is a challenging issue. I respect the passion on both sides of this issue. And we’re gonna keep working on this.


Q:

Hi governor Inslee, I am a Seattle resident. Two questions for you: (1) How do you propose to fill the giant education funding gap. I'm a grad student at UW and have watched fees and tuition skyrocket over the past 5 years? (2) What measures at the state level do you think could help with the skyrocketing rents in the Seattle area, which far outstrip inflation and are displacing the middle and lower classes from the economic, job, and transit options only available within the city limits?

Edit: formatting

A:

1) When I talked to two dozen college students last week, they all said please help us with our college costs and do it in the right way and not the wrong way. Student debt is crushing these kids. That’s why my budget freezes college tuition. They urged me to finance that in a way that doesn’t hurt other people. i.e. don’t cut housing programs for the homeless, don’t cut services for victims of domestic violence. Figure out another way. So that’s what we’re doing. We’re supporting college kids by closing some of the loopholes going to corporations that don’t work anymore and getting that to kids who need an education. We’re charging the largest polluters to reduce climate change and fund education AND we’re doing a capital gains tax that affects a small, small percentage of people. We’re taking these funds and plowing it into the education system. That’s an answer for huskies, eagles, wildcats, titans, cougars, bull dogs, loggers and – geoducks. 2) To your housing question, folks are getting hit with a double whammy of increasing income inequality and skyrocketing housing prices. There are many things we have to do to solve these twin challenges. Raise the minimum wage, improve access to public transportation, and subsidize low income housing and paying attention to our growth management issues assuring that low and middle class folks have access to affordable housing.


Q:

Seattle resident here. What are your thoughts on Artic Drilling and the Port of Seattle/Shell Oil Controversey?

A:

I have huge concerns about drilling in the arctic. I don’t believe we have sufficient plans both to prevent spills and respond to them in those incredibly challenging conditions. That’s one of the reasons I’ve long opposed opening these areas to drilling. Recently, I had my Dept. of Ecology review whether or not the state had jurisdiction over the permitting of this project. Since the operations were the same as pre-existing operations, I was told the state doesn’t have the ability legally to interfere with this lease. I know people are extremely concerned with the lack of public process in the leasing decision. And I think that frustration and concern is legitimate.


Q:

At a recent UW dinner, your speech said to fix our states educational problems, raising revenue is needed. However, you managed to go the entire speech without ever having said the word "taxes." When are you prepared to advocate for higher taxes to improve public services, if at all, OR what are the political realities that make this difficult? Secondly, what is your position on corporate welfare especially towards Boeing & Microsoft? Finally, I'm a big fan of your ending the death penalty during your term, thank you for that :+)

A:

I’ve been advocating vocally for closing tax loopholes, instituting a capital gains tax and charging large emitters for carbon pollution. What makes this difficult, Democrats and Republicans alike, would like to have things for free. But if we’re going to have early childhood education, full-day kindergarten and more college scholarships – we’re not going to be able to do this without money. On corporate welfare, these decisions are tough - because we already have the most unfair tax system in the country. That’s why we’re doing a charge on the top polluters and a capital gains instead of a sales tax or a gas tax. But it’s the right way about going about making our tax system fairer. The prospects of losing the Boeing 777X and the thousands of jobs that come with it presented us a real tough decision. The legislature decided that continuing the tax treatment for the next model of Boeing airplanes (that they have for the current model) while also getting additional protections against outsourcing the work, was the right decision. In a perfect world, large corporations would not be able to leverage states by threatening to move if they were not afforded particular tax treatment.


Q:

Hi Governor,

As a Seattle resident I had one question for you:

We really, really, really, REALLY want to tax ourselves here for expansion of Light Rail through Sound Transit for both our Ballard and West Seattle areas. Both are heavily geographically impacted by water and we need that static, fixed capability in the long term. Sound Transit asked Olympia for $15B in authority to take to the November 2016 ballot but so far they've only gotten from the Republicans in the Senate $11B on the transportation package.

We are every year increasingly more desperate here. What can and will you do to get us that $15 billion, or more (more lets us move ahead farther and faster), before this becomes a transportation crisis?

A:

I really, really, really wish they’d let me write the transportation budget. But, we’ve gotta realize that we’ve got a divided government. And we’ve got to compromise to get a transportation package. I’m working with the House and will continue to urge the Senate to expand public transportation in the state, particularly in the Puget Sound core which has such transportation gridlock. I think the public support for transit continues to grow because people recognize we have to have healthy transit options. We have no other choice if we’re not going to have absolute gridlock.


Q:

Hi Governor Inslee!

As a Seattle resident, I have to ask, what is plan B if this whole 99/Big Bertha project becomes a loss? There has to be a contingency plan, right?

A:

Obviously, if we get to that point, there will be a plan b. Right now, we have a draft repair plan from the contractor. We’re going to hold the contractor's feet to the fire to require compliance. We have to insist they finish the job. period.


Q:

Could you talk about what's being done to reduce the threat of coal trains to our communities?

A:

We’ve insisted on a very comprehensive environmental review before we assess these ports, including the impacts from burning coal. This review will also look at the local impacts related to jobs, coal dust, and transportation and rail impacts along these corridors that are also needed for moving agricultural and other products throughout the state.


Q:

Do you feel that the Oil Transportation Safety Act (HB 1449) goes far enough in addressing the danger?

While I'm very worried about the environmental threat, there is an much simpler public safety issue as well, that these trains do explode, and do so devastatingly.

A:

People are right to be very concerns about oil trains. Our current safety standards are not up to the danger associated with trains. Our view is we ought to have a strong prevention and response program with safeguards. Unfortunately, the federal law preempts huge swaths of the kinds of things we’d like to do to improve operational aspects of oil trains, and prevents the state from adopting things we’d otherwise implement. But the House bill is clearly stronger than the Senate bill by providing important protections to the communities regarding notice of oil shipments and also response measures. I’ll be advocating for the House position. We do need to get a bill this year, one way or another.


Q:

You've proposed a bill to put a price on carbon and stop the worst polluters in the state from dumping unlimited toxins into our air. This seems like a slam dunk, and most of Washingtonians support it, but we're still seeing an uphill battle in the House and Senate. How can we counteract the immense lobbying money of the oil industry and the Western State Petroleum Association and pass the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act?

A:

Step 1) Get yourself down to the legislature Step 2) Find a legislator and give them a piece of your mind. If you can't get to Olympia physically, get here virtually. I don't care how much money the oil company has, they can't stop you from doing that. Carpe diem. Carpe legislator. And, next time you see a ballot - keep this issue in mind.


Q:

Hello Governor!

On a personal note: You've been a climate champion since before Al Gore invented the Internet. Can you tell us what inspired you to speak out on that issue?

A:

When I was 20, I cared about the clear air and clean water near my home. When I was 30 I cared about my sons and their future. And now that I'm in my sixties, I want to do all I can to make sure my grandkids have a shot at enjoying a state not destroyed by carbon pollution. In my lifetime, I've enjoyed snow to ski on, the water to get oysters from and the forests to hike in. All of those things are at risk because of climate change. I'm going to do everything I can so that my grandkids can enjoy what I've enjoyed.


Q:

Hi Governor Inslee. I don't want to live in Los Angeles, but I keep seeing road expansions planned for my tax money. There is a lot of ground-level air pollution in our cities. And burning fossil fuels is dirty and is warming the planet so that some plant and animal species are at risk of extinction. Given all this, what can we do about getting good, fast, clean solutions for transportation?

A:

Electric cars. I’m working on passing a bill the will provide incentives for buying electric cars and create a financing system for charging stations. I think our transportation principle should be to provide as many options as possible so people can have choices. I’ve been working on a comprehensive plan that has a balanced approach – it’s not solely dependent on single occupancy vehicles, but recognizes the utility of giving commuters a chance, should they desire to take it, to have access to busses, light rail, bicycles and dare I say – the high tech solution of sidewalks. If we had a few more sidewalks, we might have healthier children too. But there are places we are going to have increase some lanes like 167 in Pierce County and the unfinished North South freeway in Spokane.


Q:

Hi Governor Inslee,

What is your favorite non franchise restaurant you like to eat at in Washington?

A:

Best milkshake = Burger Barn (Darrington, WA) Best cheeseburger = Rawhide Bar N Grill (Starbuck, WA)