Hey, Governor Elect Inslee: Lets talk about taxes, pot, coal trains, and ponies.
  • Kelly O
  • Congrats! Now, let's talk about taxes, pot, coal trains, and ponies.
Okay, Jay. You won. It’s a narrow victory—51 to 49 as of the latest tally—but reliable projections say you’re going to win, so congrats. Congrats on ruining Republican Rob McKenna’s master plan to rule the universe (really!), and good job proving that Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen can shell out $80,000 for pro-McKenna ads in his own damn newspaper and still not throw a governor’s race. Hurrah! Now let’s talk about a few things.

Taxes and schools: You and that guy you just beat both spent the entire campaign season promising that you wouldn’t raise taxes as governor, and at the same time, that you would spend lots more money on education in order to comply with the Washington State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision (which says we’ve so underfunded our public schools that we’re now in violation of our constitutional duty to provide a basic education for all citizens).

The problem was that promises of no new taxes and better schools were bonkers, and flat-out mathematically impossible to keep. You can’t find enough additional money for schools and keep from slashing state services beyond the already unacceptable levels without raising taxes. You just can’t. Our state is more than $1 billion in the hole. Even outgoing governor Chris Gregoire, who meekly refused to get real with people about taxes for almost her entire eight years in office, now says: “I don’t know how you can meet your obligations for McCleary without new revenue.” There’s a lesson here, Governor-Elect Inslee, and it’s not just the obvious one.