OLYMPIA — In a parting jab from a retiring Spokane-area lawmaker, a resolution was introduced on the Senate floor Monday to name April Fool’s Day as “Governor Jay Inslee Integrity Day.”
The proposal was put forward by Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, who recently announced his plans to retire from the legislature to run for Spokane County treasurer. In an interview with the Columbia Basin Herald, Baumgartner said that while the resolution was clearly tongue-in-cheek, the point he was making was serious.
Inslee has consistently gone back on his word with legislators, Baumgartner said, beginning with an agreement made last year to lower business and occupation taxes for manufacturers to match the low-rate paid by Boeing. Baumgartner said that governor double-crossed lawmakers when he line-item vetoed that provision, an opinion shared by many of the senator’s Republican colleagues.
Baumgartner said his caucus was also frustrated that the governor similarly went back on his agreement not to veto the contentious legislative public records bill, only to bow under public pressure.
“You had a bunch of people in the Senate and the House who feel like the governor helped take them over a cliff and sold them out, then got to bask in the limelight of the adoring press and education boards saying what a hero he was when he helped collude to set the entire thing up and then lied about it,” Baumgartner said.
Baumgartner has put forward one other “joke” proposal during his tenure with the state legislature, with a bill proposed in 2013 after the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, which found the state had illegally underfunded public education, that would have reduced the state’s highest court’s membership from nine to five, with the current justices meeting in public to draw straws. Those who drew the shortest straws would have been immediately terminated.
Though the full text of resolutions and bills is usually skipped through for the sake of time, Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, made the uncommon move of requesting the resolution be read in full.
“I thought the whole world should know what was in the resolution,” Schoesler said in an interview. “Otherwise it wouldn’t get the hearing.”
Schoesler said that the governor has been consistently unreliable, and that there was no better day to celebrate Inslee’s integrity than on April Fool’s Day.
“I would just note that there was bipartisan four-corner input into the creation of that resolution, and while anyone on the floor, including Democrats, could have objected to the reading of the resolution in full.
“I look forward to the good people of the state of Washington, or at least the legislators who’ve had to work with (Inslee), wishing each other Happy J-Day on April 1,” said Baumgartner.
In response, the governor’s Executive Director of Communications Jaime Smith said that the governor had responded in a press release to the claims alluded by Baumgartner “in his trademark statesmanlike and charming manner.” In the release, the governor said that problems with the process behind the public records bill, along with letters from both parties requesting a veto, caused him to steer away from the legislation.
In a press conference Monday, Inslee responded directly to the resolution.
“We are fully respective of a vibrant sense of humor and the First Amendment,” Inslee said.