Freedom Foundation

Governor Inslee Makes “Worst of the Worst” List

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has added another dubious honor to his burgeoning collection.

The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Center for State Fiscal Reform has released a comprehensive analysis of how America’s governors talked about tax and fiscal policies during their respective state of the state addresses in 2016 and  Inslee’s 2016 “State of the State” address which was described as one of “the worst of the worst” by the authors.

The authors were examining 2016 speeches for policy recommendations that impact states’ economic competitiveness. Historically, the Center for State Fiscal Reform monitors how states’ policies impact free enterprise and with a competitiveness index.

On the index, Washington ranks 36th in terms of the economic outlook.

One reported trend was that “many governors focused a considerable portion of their addresses on the issue of tax relief. For the second year in a row, more governors proposed reducing taxes to facilitate economic growth than governors who proposed increasing taxes.”

Not so for Washington’s chief executive. Instead, his ideas about state fiscal policy earned him special recognition as one of the four worst for proposals proven to hinder economic competitiveness and growth.

Inslee’s “State of the State” speech from Jan. 12 attracted the attention of the analysts for three reasons:

First, they noted his call for an increase the state’s minimum wage from $9.47 an hour to $13.50 an hour by 2020.

He said, “If you work 40 hours a week, you deserve a wage that puts a roof over your head and food on the table. Period.”

Essentially, he favors criminalizing employment for any workers who don’t actually provide enough value to cover the cost of a home.

The Center for State Fiscal Reform notes, “While this was sold as an effort to help workers, it would have the unfortunate effect of costing many low-wage workers their jobs and make it more difficult for businesses to succeed in the state.”

Second, they noted his intention to add corporation taxes to fund the pay raises of school employees. Adding targeted taxes on economic activity has an obvious impact on the state’s competitiveness.

Third, they called out his extraordinary statement that the state should use investment policy to accomplish his ideals.

The Washington State Investment Board manages investments for 17 retirement plans, industrial insurance funds, funds for colleges and development disability programs. Inslee said:

“I’ve asked the investment board to go further and exercise its voting authority to reduce the widening pay gap between CEOs and their workers.”

Read the report here