Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement today on the first day of the 2021 legislative session:
"Today convenes one of the most unique and challenging legislative sessions I can remember for our state. As the pandemic era has forced us all to adapt our processes, the Legislature is no exception. At the same time, decisions await legislators that will impact our state for generations going forward.
"These are my priorities for this legislative session: Relief, recovery and resilience. Relief for the here-and-now; a recovery plan to turn the corner; and resilience for our long-term wellbeing, including economic health, public health, a stronger education system, and greater preparedness for future challenges, including climate change.
"My agenda calls for immediate action on $200 million more in aid for small businesses, and landlords and tenants. My priorities also include getting more children back into the classroom in safe and healthy environments this year, as well as improving the state’s public health system so more lives can be saved from this pandemic.
"We must have more assistance to workers who have lost their jobs. We need to help everyone get back to a safe work environment. We need to keep people from losing their housing and get more who are experiencing homelessness under a safe roof.
"The pandemic era has made this inequity that much clearer, as the concentration of wealth at the top has only accelerated while Main Street has suffered and more families wonder whether they can afford food and other basic needs. That’s why I want to fund the Working Families Tax Credit. We can help fund it with a capital gains tax; one that would impact less than 2% of Washingtonians. At the same time, we’re going to lower unemployment insurance taxes for small businesses that unexpectedly had to lay off record numbers of employees.
"When we do come through this emergency, we are not going back to normal; we are going to create a better normal, together. This goes beyond COVID-19. We can’t just address economic disparities without acknowledging racial disparities.
"We think of one another as equal because it is one of this nation’s principles, but we can’t be equal until we live as equals. My legislative agenda takes aim at these inequities in all of these areas, whether it's reforming independent investigations, environmental justice, improving our health systems, expanding job training and early childhood education.
"I look forward to honest conversations with the Legislature about these issues and action that will benefit all Washingtonians."