OLYMPIA, WA – Gov. Jay Inslee this weekend attended an annual meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA) in Washington, DC, where he joined other Democratic and Republican governors in discussing issues facing all states, including educational opportunity, inclusive economic growth and national security.
In a number of meetings over the weekend Governor Inslee touted Washington’s progress, including the state’s recent largest-ever investments in transportation and education, its national leadership in growing exports, and its recent #1 ranking in Business Insider’s rankings of states’ economies.
Inslee currently serves as chairman of the NGA Education & Workforce Committee. On Sunday he and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, the panel’s vice chair, hosted a bipartisan discussion about how states can best implement the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Congress passed the bill last year through the bipartisan leadership of Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), to reform the outdated, burdensome requirements of No Child Left Behind and give states new tools to promote education.
In the committee meeting Inslee recognized the great leadership of Senator Murray, and spoke about Washington’s progress in education:
“Because it’s the paramount duty of our state we’ve made unprecedented investments in our children in the last couple of years,” said Inslee. “We’ve had the largest investment in K through 12 funding in the history of our state. I am proud to say that Washington state is the one state that enjoyed tuition reductions for all college students, and community college students as well. We hope 49 other governors will follow that lead.
“We’ve expanded all-day kindergarten so every child has is now going to have all-day kindergarten. And we’ve had reduction of our early class-sizes and unprecedented increased access in really high-quality early childhood education… I think our state demonstrates why this new law is so exciting. to us. It allows us to build on the local leadership we have in fifty states, and that’s why we’re here today. But we know there’s a lot of work ahead of us.”
Earlier that day Inslee and Bentley met with national education stakeholders, and with the committee announced the creation of an NGA ESSA Implementation Task Force. The governors also used the committee discussion to call on Congress to pass e-fairness legislation that would modernize internet sales tax collections, protect small business retailers, and provide states with important financial resources to invest in their schools.
Later on Sunday, Inslee and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson joined with Code.org and Microsoft to announced “Governors K-12 Computer Science Partnership.” This new partnership builds on Washington state’s national leadership in computer science education, and will help promote computer science across the country. In 2013, Inslee and the Washington State Legislature worked together to pass legislation to allow computer science coursework to be credited towards high school graduation requirements. In 2015, they worked together again to enact legislation allocating $2 million for schools to scale up computer science programs, and beginning a process to create K-12 computer science standards and teacher certification.
Inslee and his fellow Democratic governors met with President Obama on Friday for a discussion that covered topics such as increasing the minimum wage, allowing hardworking American families to access paid sick leave, and protecting Americans’ voting rights. They also discussed criminal justice reform, and federal support for research and innovation, among other issues.
Inslee joined the Western Governors Association (WGA) for a meeting with Agriculture Secretary Tim Vilsack, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and EPA Administrator McCarthy on furthering the federal-state partnership in response to increasingly devastating western wildfire seasons, drought and water resources management, and more.
Inslee also met with Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, attended a secure briefing for governors at the FBI headquarters, and joined all governors in talking with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate about federal disaster assistance. He talked with federal officials about the importance of resolving the ongoing trade dispute between the China and the U.S. that is affecting both nations’ solar industries, and which threatens hundreds of jobs in Moses Lake. He stopped by an annual meeting of the National Conference of American Indians (NCAI), to talk with tribal leaders from Washington and around the country about enhancing the partnerships between state governments and tribal nations.
Last week, ahead of NGA 2016 winter meeting, Governor Inslee joined sixteen of his fellow governors in announcing the “Governors Accord for a New Energy Future,” a bipartisan collaboration to advance clean energy.