The Seattle Times wrote a lukewarm re-election endorsement for Gov. Jay Inslee — for precisely the wrong reasons. The editorial states that Inslee is “more likely to be constructive” one paragraph after chastising the governor’s “significant failure of management and leadership.”
Bill Bryant, the editorial states, “has a novice’s eager desire to start from scratch” but that “now could gum up progress made thus far.”
Now is exactly the time to start from scratch. One-party rule of state government for 32 years is far too long. Management gets sloppy and department heads feel entitled. New ideas fade. Our ship of state is loaded with barnacles and needs a thorough cleaning.
The editorial criticizes Bryant’s call for zero-based budget as a “talking point rather than a useful strategy.” But every department should be asked about every one of their activities. Why are we doing this? How can we do better? If not necessary, let’s stop doing it. Reach out to other states, business leaders and professional organizations for ideas and help in building a 21st century state government. That is far more than a talking point.
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The next administrations faces a court-ordered major improvement in our educational system, but there is no plan emanating from the Governor’s Office, no new ideas and no leadership of the Legislature.
But the editorial commends the governor, saying “Inslee has convened and assigned a key staffer to support a small, bipartisan legislative task force, and he appears committed to finishing the job.” The committee is the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education. The governor showed up for a short time at the first meeting and then left, turning responsibility to a staff member. Education-financing reform is the most critical issue of the coming sessions, and it demands leadership from the governor.
I know, from my experience, that a governor’s personal involvement is absolutely vital in building legislative agreements on major issues. You cannot delegate this responsibility. It will take vigorous leadership — and after 32 years of one-party government, a new administration and a new governor.
Daniel J. Evans, Seattle, former Washington governor