OLYMPIA — Republican legislators said they agreed with Gov. Jay Inslee the state has to focus on getting more jobs, but disagreed with some of his plans to do that.
They also disagreed with his contention that the science on global warming is settled and said his call to pass the Reproductive Parity Act, which would require all insurance plans that cover live births also cover abortion was a potentially divisive issue that they don't support.
“Social issues right now are not as important as getting people back to work,” Rep. Richard DeBolt of Chehalis, the House Republican leader said.
As their gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna did during the campaign, GOP legislators accused Inslee of trying to “pick winners and losers” in his call to provide tax credits for research and development on key industries. Instead, DeBolt said, the state should “allow the market to work.”
While Inslee called for more clean energy, Sen. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville, the Senate Republican leader, said the real key to more jobs is affordable energy.
“We have very clean energy. It's called hydropower,” Schoesler said.
Inslee's speech was short on details, he and other GOP leaders said. “The details are what will drive this process through the next 103 days.”
The legislative session, which began on Monday, is limited by law to 105 days.
Inslee wants to make the state a cleaner in jobs and products connected to clean energy, and in describing that goal, he said the science on climate change was settled. That brought loud cheers from the Democratic side of the floor, but many Republicans sat quietly in their chairs.
There are different theories on climate change and its causes, DeBolt said. “If you want to say it's an opinion, that's fine,” he said, but saying the debate is over is a problem.
If Inslee wants to do something about carbon emissions, however, he should look at doing something to prevent forest fires and cut more trees for lumber, DeBolt suggested. Trees that burn in fires create carbon emissions, while processed-wood products “lock the emissions into the wood.”
Republicans have three main goals in the session, said Rep. Kevin Parker of Spokane, who was chosen to give the televised GOP response to Inslee's address. Creating jobs, making education the first priority, and protecting public safety.
They support Inslee when he says he won't raise taxes to balance the coming budget, Parker added.
“We need to return to the principle that a strong economy makes a strong government, not the other way around,” he said.