Home / General / Profiles in Courage: Jay Inslee

Profiles in Courage: Jay Inslee


Jay Inslee, who campaigned against charter schools in his run for Governor in 2012, had the opportunity to prevent this drain on public schools. What did he do?

Gov. Jay Inslee took action on more than 150 bills this week, but not a measure to that aims to preserve the state’s system of charter schools.

On Sunday, the bill will become law anyway.

The measure, Senate Bill 6194, looks to solve constitutional issues with the state’s voter-approved charter-school law, which the Washington State Supreme Court struck down in September.

Inslee faced a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Saturday (April 2) to either sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

On Friday, he announced he had chosen the latter and the law will take effect Sunday.

In a letter explaining his decision, Inslee said he remains concerned about whether there will be adequate public oversight of charter schools, but said he doesn’t want to see the schools shut down.

It’s the procedural/political game he’s trying to play that really annoys me. If he made the case that the people had spoken (The bill is a legal fix for a charter school amendment that passed in 2012 but was ruled unconstitutional) and want this passed, and he’s not going to stand in the way and signed the damn thing, or if he determined he needs to do this to win re-election, I wouldn’t support his decision but I could, on some level, respect it. But trying to have it both ways with a procedural gimmick that does nothing is insulting and worthless. Inslee has also spent much of the last three years scolding the legislature for not fully funding public schools to comply with the McCleary ruling; it’s difficult to see why anyone should take him seriously if he continues to pretend to shed crocodile tears about how the legislature won’t properly fund public schools.

It’s very difficult to see how a Democrat could lose the Governor’s office in Washington in a presidential year that isn’t a Republican wave. I have a feeling Inslee’s going to make it annoyingly interesting.

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  • Wapiti


    He could have scored serious points by vetoing it. The people in Seattle at least seem pretty angry at the legislature for not funding schools. Frankly, Inslee would be justified in vetoing anything that wasn’t required so our represenatives can focus on that.

    As it is… we do have top two voting, so maybe I get a choice of a Democrat other than Inslee.

  • Nick Conway

    Ever since Gary Locke left office the Washington Dems seem to run really unpopular candidates for governor, and the Reps always seem to manage to find candidates that overperform their fundamentals. Kerry won the state handily in 2004, but Gregoire won by 130 votes over Rossi. Gregorie underperfomed Obama in 2008 by a large margin. Inslee’s 2012 election was pretty close as well, I remember a lot of political observers thinking that Mckenna would get it right up until the last few months.

    Honestly we should consider ourselves lucky that as a liberal state we’ve had Dem governors for over 30 years straight, given that states as liberal as Illinois and Massachusetts have managed to elect Reps recently. Still, we seem to make it harder for ourselves than we need to.

    Given that Clinton is likely to win huge in Washington over Trump or Cruz, I’m hoping that can translate into us finally taking back the State Senate. We only need to gain two seats I believe? That’ll be an interesting sideplot for this election, whether Dems can finally start winning back some more legislatures in 2016, as we don’t have many good governor pick-up opportunites other than maybe NC.

    • Also, given that Washington is usually considered a more blue state than Oregon in terms of the federal level, it’s interesting to me that the state politics between the two states are so different, with Oregon consistently running solid people (at least until Kitzhaber fell in love) and the Oregon Republican Party a complete clownshow.

      • djw

        Oregon also has solid Dem. majorities in both houses, whereas Washington Democrats can’t seem to hold the Senate.

        I hadn’t really thought about it, but it is a bit odd that Washington seems to have slightly bigger D majorities in national elections, given that a) Eastern Washington is big enough for two congressional districts, whereas Eastern Oregon has about 73 people, and b) Portland’s most conservative suburbs are in Washington.

        • Denverite

          The Seattle CSA is about 50% bigger than the Portland CSA, plus the reason that Eastern Washington is so much more populous is that Spokane is there, and I always understood it to be a lot less Republican than people give it credit for. (I.e., it’s more Ft. Collins and less Colorado Springs.)

        • fledermaus

          People overestimate the conservatism east of the Cascades. Heck, Hillary did better in Seattle caucuses than she did in the east.

          • That doesn’t mean anything in the general election.

            What it probably means in the caucuses is that eastern Washington Democratic Party activists are whiter.

            • Nick Conway

              You’re right that it doesn’t mean anything for the general election. But I did want to mention that it is true though that parts of Eastern Washington are moving towards the Dems.

              Yakima, Adams, and Franklin counties are all majority-minority now due to growing latino populations. They are still pretty solidly republican, but every election they trend rapidly towards the Democrats (Franklin and Adams gave Obama a higher share of the vote in 2012 even when his share of the vote statewide went down from 2008). Obviously the problem is that many of the minority voters are legal or illegal immigrants who cant vote. Still, I think there is some hope for Dems in the East, especially if Trump can boost latino turnout.

              • Oh definitely. And I don’t know what percentage of Latinos in those counties participated in the caucuses, but I would guess it was very, very low.

                • Nick Conway

                  Yeah, although those latino majority-minority counties weren’t awful for Hillary which suggests at least some were participating. She didn’t get blown out as bad there as in the lily-white counties in eastern and western wash.

                  I wish there was some precinct or neighborhood level results, I’m very curious how the Asian vote in Wash split between Bernie and Hillary. Given Bernies margin I think he probably won the asian vote but who knows.

          • djw

            And she did better in Idaho, too, but that doesn’t tell us anything about the politics of the region. “How many Democrats are there?” is the important question, not which primary candidate they prefer. Eastern Washington votes consistently, strongly Republican; Romney carried the 4th by 22 points, and the moderated-by-Spokane 5th by 10.

            Spokane has a slight moderating effect, as the city proper leans slightly Dem, while the county and the suburbs overwhelm that. I’m not sure Fort Collins is a good analogy, though–in 2012 Obama ran about a point ahead of his CA state total in Larimer County, whereas Obama ran 20 points behind his WA results in Spokane County. (Both cities are around 1/2 the county population, Spokane a bit less.) Ft. Collins is a college town, Spokane is not.

            • tsam

              Spokane is a mess. We’ve elected local people that range from brilliant to Jim West–one of the worst humans to ever live here. Slightly Democratic, but still loopy and fucked up.

            • ColBatGuano

              Inslee won in 2012 51.5% to 48.5%. I don’t think the margin was that close because he wasn’t progressive enough.

    • djw

      We only need to gain two seats I believe?

      Three seats, because if the Dems have a 25-24 majority Tim Shelton will probably caucus with the Republicans the first time he gets mad about something or another.

      • Nick Conway

        This article lists it as 25 Reps, 24 Dems, one of whom (Sheldon) essentially caucuses wiht the Reps, leading to a 26 Rep 23 Dem split. So if we gained two seats, that puts us at 25 Dems (26 with Sheldon) and 24 Reps (23 without Sheldon).

        • djw

          Oh, I thought the 26-23 count was before Sheldon. That’s a bit more promising. Around a year ago someone I know who works for the party was pretty pessimistic; in particular the view is the trend in the 17th, as with Clark county generally, is drifting R in a hurry.

          (The Stranger is objectively correct to note that the 41st might be a pickup opportunity but something in my brain prevents from processing the idea that Mercer Island might go Democratic.)

          • Nick Conway

            Interesting, didn’t realize Romney almost won Clark, weird. Looking at the demographics of that county, it is surprisingly white for a suburban county in Washington. The white percentage doesn’t seem to be going down as much there as in the suburban areas of Pierce and King county or in some of the big Eastern Wash counties.


            Basically one of the only places in Washington with a sizable population where the Reps “just win the White vote by a huge margin” strategy could actually pay off.

            • djw

              I have some theories about Clark County’s Republican drift. Basically I think the most Republican elements of the Portland MSA are segregating there. It’s also a place that’s going to attract hard-core tax avoiders (no income tax in WA, shop in Oregon with no sales tax)

              One reason I really wanted to see Tri-Met trains extend across the river is that it might have facilitated turning downtown Vancouver into a cheaper rent option for liberal city-types fleeing Portland’s skyrocketing rents.

              • I think this is right. Also, there are less restrictions on developers so you can build big houses in the deep burbs.

              • Amanda in the South Bay

                I never really got that, because if I lived in Vancouver, I wouldn’t want to drive to Portland everytime to shop to buy groceries, etc. But then my impression of those types is that they really are the kinds to game the system and try to avoid as many taxes as possible, even if it means spending an arm and a leg in gas. Perhaps when gas inevitably rises again that’ll be nice revenge for those folk.

                I recently moved back to Portland from the Bay Area, and while I appreciate the lack of sales tax, I’d never live in Washington to avoid it.

                • tsam


                • There are stores that are designed to facilitate living in WA and shopping in OR, like Jantzen Beach and the Costco on Airport Way just off of the Glenn Jackson Bridge. My family lived in Vancouver 96-99 and I remember a lot of trips to both. The proximity to the freeway meant that it didn’t take that much longer to cross the river.

                • Wapiti

                  I have to wonder how much Washington State budgets towards enforcing the Use Tax. All those people buying stuff in Portland for use at home still owe taxes on it, just like they do on internet sales that don’t collect the tax.

                • djw

                  My sense is that it’s pretty much completely unenforced, except maybe with certain big ticket items.

                • Hogan

                  I have to wonder how much Washington State budgets towards enforcing the Use Tax.

                  Enforcing it on W/O border crossers in any serious way would almost certainly cost more than the revenue it would generate.

                • Amanda in the South Bay

                  Three days after I moved back to Portland, I had to show a college transcript I got mailed to my parent’s address in order to show I was an Oregon resident when buying a car. So I assume for really big ticket items like that, the dealership has to check to make sure you aren’t an Oregon resident so you have to pay sales tax.

  • bobbyp

    The Dem majority in the state House of Representatives is also razor thin.

    This is also a state where heavily Democratic districts absolutely refuse to robustly support a state income tax-as they return local Dems to the Legislature that are strongly in favor of such a measure. The funding constraints puts Dem politicians constantly on the defensive….nibbling around the edges trying to do good things with no money.

    • Nick Conway

      I’ve gotta think that if this turns into an anti-Trump wave in Washington that 50 to 48 margin for Dems will expand. Also, as more and more minorities are pushed out of Seattle by gentrification and as the minority population continues to grow, some of those suburban districts are going to become inhospitable for Reps. Won’t be so easy to win seats out in Bellevue and the like.

  • ThrottleJockey

    I read this weekend the charter schools are only 5% of all schools in the US. For all the Sturm and Drang around here about Charter Schools you’d think they were half of all school funding. People have gotten tired of the same old same old and they want some more choices. I can’t say I blame them.

    • efgoldman

      I can’t say I blame them.

      Says the guy with no kids.

    • bobbyp

      When public schools are underfunded, any diversion of public funds to charter schools has a disproportionate effect at the margin.

      If you want more choice, pony up and send your kids to parochial schools and leave your hands off our public money.

  • Judas Peckerwood

    People have gotten tired of the same old same old and they want some more choices. I can’t say I blame them.

    Soooooo… TRUMP!

  • Robespierre

    Choose all you want, with your own money, after paying all taxes. Taxes are not the price for your kids’ school, they are paid to guarantee everyone’s school.

  • bobbyp
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  • Sebastian_h

    A lot of black people and a lot of poor people seem to like having the choice. Or are we only supposed to notice privilege in conservative arguments?

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