Hi reddit, I’m Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington state. My state leads on climate issues and heath care but also has the most unfair tax system in the nation. As a start on fixing that, this year I proposed a capital gains tax that impacts less than 1% of our top earners. I also proposed a carbon pollution charge on the state’s top polluters (cap and trade) to help fund education and transportation.

I’m a longtime supporter of Net Neutrality (my credentials go back to my time in Congress).

You may know me from my non top ten book Apollo’s Fire. Or my non-Oscar winning performance in the 2005 hit “The Deal” with Christian Slater.

Proof: https://twitter.com/GovInslee/status/578617896521216000

My staff wrote my bio, but I’m answering the questions (from 1-3pm PT.) Let’s get to it.

EDIT We're out of time. Sorry I couldn't answer the question about time travel, I have a meeting in 2021 I have to get to.

EDIT 2 Thanks, reddit. Here's a doodle for you: http://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/images/GovRedditDoodle.JPG

Comments: 808 • Responses: 19  • Date: 

mechaet336 karma

Governor Jay Inslee:

I smoked for 23 years until I encountered one of the newer-generation vape devices. I was able to use it to completely stop smoking, and have been cigarette-free for almost a year now. My level of nicotine has consistently dropped in this period. I started at 18mg/mL, and am now on 6mg/mL (and soon 3). This has very likely saved my life, as well as the lives of anyone who used to be near me when I smoked cigarettes.

When the 95% tax on tobacco products was put forth, one of the goals was to get people to stop smoking. Now that people are stopping smoking, you're finding yourselves short on cash because the tax revenue from smokers isn't as much as you had projected. Instead of letting it be and stopping the unfair and unnecessary punishment of this particular group of people you are now doubling down and hitting their most viable exit strategy from tobacco consumption. Why is this? Why does one group of people get repeatedly unfairly punished via the taxation system? Do you think that's legal? Do you think it's moral? Do you think that's ethical?

With vaping having no proven secondhand effects, the possible boon to public health is not just for the smokers, either. There are a number of public health officials who have stated this is vastly less harmful for the now-former smokers, and harmless to those around them. Why do we need to stop or curtail a behavior that is essentially harmless to non-participants?

On the topic of flavor bans, why are these flavors on the chopping block to be banned in vaping, but I can still get all the same flavorings in alcohol?

I vape, and I vote, and I live in Washington State. Thanks for this AMA, and I very much look forward to your responses.

GovInslee44 karma

I think I understand your concerns. This vaping issue is new for us. I understand there are a lot of concerns from a lot of different voices. You point out issues of fairness, equity and health. We’ve chosen to focus on children’s health to prevent an industry in succeeding in getting people to become addicted to nicotine. From your question, it sounds like you understand the dangers of nicotine addiction. We have to face the reality that there’s a large industry dedicated to increasing nicotine addiction of our children. In order to reduce prospects of children getting addicted to nicotine there are multiple tools like licensing of vendors and restricting childhood advertising. But the single most effective tool to prevent children from becoming addicted is the cost of the product. We believe what we’ve proposed will substantially reduce the chance of our children becoming addicted to this dangerous drug while still keeping vaping at half the price of cigarettes. Our bill includes provisions if vaping products are certified as smoking cessation products by the FDA. The bill isn’t done. I encourage you to keep talking to your legislators about this. But inaction on youth nicotine addiction isn’t acceptable.

GovInslee39 karma

I've followed the vaping debate during this AMA. The diverse viewpoints show why this is a challenging issue. I respect the passion on both sides of this issue. And we’re gonna keep working on this.

holierthanmao69 karma

Hi Governor Inslee!

As a Seattle resident, I have to ask, what is plan B if this whole 99/Big Bertha project becomes a loss? There has to be a contingency plan, right?

GovInslee46 karma

Obviously, if we get to that point, there will be a plan b. Right now, we have a draft repair plan from the contractor. We’re going to hold the contractor's feet to the fire to require compliance. We have to insist they finish the job. period.

Polynya59 karma

Hi governor Inslee, I am a Seattle resident. Two questions for you: (1) How do you propose to fill the giant education funding gap. I'm a grad student at UW and have watched fees and tuition skyrocket over the past 5 years? (2) What measures at the state level do you think could help with the skyrocketing rents in the Seattle area, which far outstrip inflation and are displacing the middle and lower classes from the economic, job, and transit options only available within the city limits?

Edit: formatting

GovInslee47 karma

1) When I talked to two dozen college students last week, they all said please help us with our college costs and do it in the right way and not the wrong way. Student debt is crushing these kids. That’s why my budget freezes college tuition. They urged me to finance that in a way that doesn’t hurt other people. i.e. don’t cut housing programs for the homeless, don’t cut services for victims of domestic violence. Figure out another way. So that’s what we’re doing. We’re supporting college kids by closing some of the loopholes going to corporations that don’t work anymore and getting that to kids who need an education. We’re charging the largest polluters to reduce climate change and fund education AND we’re doing a capital gains tax that affects a small, small percentage of people. We’re taking these funds and plowing it into the education system. That’s an answer for huskies, eagles, wildcats, titans, cougars, bull dogs, loggers and – geoducks. 2) To your housing question, folks are getting hit with a double whammy of increasing income inequality and skyrocketing housing prices. There are many things we have to do to solve these twin challenges. Raise the minimum wage, improve access to public transportation, and subsidize low income housing and paying attention to our growth management issues assuring that low and middle class folks have access to affordable housing.

marwoodwilliams59 karma

Seattle resident here. What are your thoughts on Artic Drilling and the Port of Seattle/Shell Oil Controversey?

GovInslee57 karma

I have huge concerns about drilling in the arctic. I don’t believe we have sufficient plans both to prevent spills and respond to them in those incredibly challenging conditions. That’s one of the reasons I’ve long opposed opening these areas to drilling. Recently, I had my Dept. of Ecology review whether or not the state had jurisdiction over the permitting of this project. Since the operations were the same as pre-existing operations, I was told the state doesn’t have the ability legally to interfere with this lease. I know people are extremely concerned with the lack of public process in the leasing decision. And I think that frustration and concern is legitimate.

joeszilagyi57 karma

Hi Governor,

As a Seattle resident I had one question for you:

We really, really, really, REALLY want to tax ourselves here for expansion of Light Rail through Sound Transit for both our Ballard and West Seattle areas. Both are heavily geographically impacted by water and we need that static, fixed capability in the long term. Sound Transit asked Olympia for $15B in authority to take to the November 2016 ballot but so far they've only gotten from the Republicans in the Senate $11B on the transportation package.

We are every year increasingly more desperate here. What can and will you do to get us that $15 billion, or more (more lets us move ahead farther and faster), before this becomes a transportation crisis?

GovInslee59 karma

I really, really, really wish they’d let me write the transportation budget. But, we’ve gotta realize that we’ve got a divided government. And we’ve got to compromise to get a transportation package. I’m working with the House and will continue to urge the Senate to expand public transportation in the state, particularly in the Puget Sound core which has such transportation gridlock. I think the public support for transit continues to grow because people recognize we have to have healthy transit options. We have no other choice if we’re not going to have absolute gridlock.

suaveitguy57 karma

What is it like to get lobbied?

GovInslee199 karma

It's like when your kids tell you they want to go to Disneyland.

ATiredCliche47 karma

At a recent UW dinner, your speech said to fix our states educational problems, raising revenue is needed. However, you managed to go the entire speech without ever having said the word "taxes." When are you prepared to advocate for higher taxes to improve public services, if at all, OR what are the political realities that make this difficult? Secondly, what is your position on corporate welfare especially towards Boeing & Microsoft? Finally, I'm a big fan of your ending the death penalty during your term, thank you for that :+)

GovInslee30 karma

I’ve been advocating vocally for closing tax loopholes, instituting a capital gains tax and charging large emitters for carbon pollution. What makes this difficult, Democrats and Republicans alike, would like to have things for free. But if we’re going to have early childhood education, full-day kindergarten and more college scholarships – we’re not going to be able to do this without money. On corporate welfare, these decisions are tough - because we already have the most unfair tax system in the country. That’s why we’re doing a charge on the top polluters and a capital gains instead of a sales tax or a gas tax. But it’s the right way about going about making our tax system fairer. The prospects of losing the Boeing 777X and the thousands of jobs that come with it presented us a real tough decision. The legislature decided that continuing the tax treatment for the next model of Boeing airplanes (that they have for the current model) while also getting additional protections against outsourcing the work, was the right decision. In a perfect world, large corporations would not be able to leverage states by threatening to move if they were not afforded particular tax treatment.

warpg843 karma

Governor, let me first say thank you for doing this.

Washington is now reaping the benefits of legalized marijuana in the form of sales tax, however, many residents are unable to enjoy this legal activity due to fear of reprisal by their employers.

Would you be in favor of legislation prohibiting testing of cannabis in Washington state as a pre-requisite for employment? I would also like to hear your thoughts regarding random drug testing in the workplace.

To be clear, I am not saying that in the case of workplace accidents causing injury or damage the involved parties should not be tested. However, due to the chemical properties of cannabinoids, which are fat soluble, as opposed to opiates, many stimulants, and alcohol, all of which are water soluble, urine screenings (the most common form of drug test) seem to target only those drugs that remain in one's system for more than a couple of days.

GovInslee43 karma

No. Not from what we know right now. There still might be some jobs where drug testing, including for alcohol, would be appropriate. But there are many questions about this new marijuana market that we're going to be working out as it develops.

I don't think legislation can make the distinction between fat soluble and water soluble right now.

eonge41 karma

Two questions:

1) Your action regarding the death penalty made me glad that I voted for you. Would you ever push the legislature to pass a bill ending the death penalty in Washington?

2) Why did you ultimately decide on a cap and trade policy over a carbon tax?

GovInslee33 karma

1) HB 1739 (a bill to end the death penalty) has my full support. Unfortunately, the bill doesn’t look like it’s going to get through this year. But I’ll continue to urge our state to recognize that death penalty costs too much and hasn’t been applied equally across our state. 2) The benefits of a cap on carbon pollution is that it’s a binding law that will actually give Washingtonians what they need – which is confidence that carbon pollution will be reduced in our state. The cap on carbon is a mechanism that is well understood, is working in nine other states and a couple dozen countries that has the clear ability to reduce carbon pollution to reduce climate change. The added benefit is it reduces associated pollutants that have increased our kids’ rate of asthma and other diseases. Under my plan, the state’s largest polluters will be responsible both for limiting pollution and paying for the pollution they cause. That money can be used for our children’s education and improving our transportation system. Bottom line of my decision on this is that this system (cap and trade) works. This system has the very important attribute of having a concrete limit on carbon pollution that can be put into the atmosphere, unlike a carbon tax that cannot provide that guarantee.

a_epstein40 karma

You've proposed a bill to put a price on carbon and stop the worst polluters in the state from dumping unlimited toxins into our air. This seems like a slam dunk, and most of Washingtonians support it, but we're still seeing an uphill battle in the House and Senate. How can we counteract the immense lobbying money of the oil industry and the Western State Petroleum Association and pass the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act?

GovInslee61 karma

Step 1) Get yourself down to the legislature Step 2) Find a legislator and give them a piece of your mind. If you can't get to Olympia physically, get here virtually. I don't care how much money the oil company has, they can't stop you from doing that. Carpe diem. Carpe legislator. And, next time you see a ballot - keep this issue in mind.

Demon99724 karma

Could you talk about what's being done to reduce the threat of coal trains to our communities?

GovInslee17 karma

We’ve insisted on a very comprehensive environmental review before we assess these ports, including the impacts from burning coal. This review will also look at the local impacts related to jobs, coal dust, and transportation and rail impacts along these corridors that are also needed for moving agricultural and other products throughout the state.

Demon99710 karma

Do you feel that the Oil Transportation Safety Act (HB 1449) goes far enough in addressing the danger?

While I'm very worried about the environmental threat, there is an much simpler public safety issue as well, that these trains do explode, and do so devastatingly.

GovInslee8 karma

People are right to be very concerns about oil trains. Our current safety standards are not up to the danger associated with trains. Our view is we ought to have a strong prevention and response program with safeguards. Unfortunately, the federal law preempts huge swaths of the kinds of things we’d like to do to improve operational aspects of oil trains, and prevents the state from adopting things we’d otherwise implement. But the House bill is clearly stronger than the Senate bill by providing important protections to the communities regarding notice of oil shipments and also response measures. I’ll be advocating for the House position. We do need to get a bill this year, one way or another.

genesinseattle23 karma

Hello, governor!

I'm a PhD student at the UW studying how stem cells can be used to repair heart damage. What, if anything, have you (or will you) done to make Washington State more competitive in terms of research?

Also, Washington State is perhaps the best place in the world to gain research experience as an undergraduate in the world, and junior colleges (such as Bellevue College and Tacoma Community College) are, to my understanding, providing more an more researchers opportunities to community college goers. This evens the playing field and makes community college a better option. What efforts are you making to make community colleges (such as BC) more competitive in that regard?

GovInslee19 karma

First off- guys like you are more exciting to me than even the QB of the huskies. In congress I fought the opposition against the promising research in stem cells. I’ve blocked cuts to the Life Science Discovery fund which helps startups (including those in stem cell research) to grow in our state. We’ve supported cutting edge clean energy research (not exactly stem cell), but what I’ve found is that there’s so much cross pollination in the high tech eco-system that all high tech research could benefit multiple fields. I really appreciate your admiration for community colleges. I think they’re an excellent way to get access to school in multiple ways and they may be the best bang for their buck to the tax payers. I fought for them going back to 1989 when I was in the state legislature, in part because I was a teacher at Yakima Community College. I had a nice talk with a Tacoma Community College Titan last week and it was great to know how we were helping him pursue his dreams. That’s why I’m committed to developing the fiscal foundation so we can help the students and the colleges themselves. I think we’ve also got to make the high school to community college transition more seamless. I know community colleges do great things – two of my sons are community college grads and they’re doing great.

MrMeem22 karma

Hello Governor!

On a personal note: You've been a climate champion since before Al Gore invented the Internet. Can you tell us what inspired you to speak out on that issue?

GovInslee42 karma

When I was 20, I cared about the clear air and clean water near my home. When I was 30 I cared about my sons and their future. And now that I'm in my sixties, I want to do all I can to make sure my grandkids have a shot at enjoying a state not destroyed by carbon pollution. In my lifetime, I've enjoyed snow to ski on, the water to get oysters from and the forests to hike in. All of those things are at risk because of climate change. I'm going to do everything I can so that my grandkids can enjoy what I've enjoyed.

AlphaQuestion12 karma

Hi Governor Inslee. I don't want to live in Los Angeles, but I keep seeing road expansions planned for my tax money. There is a lot of ground-level air pollution in our cities. And burning fossil fuels is dirty and is warming the planet so that some plant and animal species are at risk of extinction. Given all this, what can we do about getting good, fast, clean solutions for transportation?

GovInslee17 karma

Electric cars. I’m working on passing a bill the will provide incentives for buying electric cars and create a financing system for charging stations. I think our transportation principle should be to provide as many options as possible so people can have choices. I’ve been working on a comprehensive plan that has a balanced approach – it’s not solely dependent on single occupancy vehicles, but recognizes the utility of giving commuters a chance, should they desire to take it, to have access to busses, light rail, bicycles and dare I say – the high tech solution of sidewalks. If we had a few more sidewalks, we might have healthier children too. But there are places we are going to have increase some lanes like 167 in Pierce County and the unfinished North South freeway in Spokane.

fishbait326 karma

Hi Governor Inslee,

What is your favorite non franchise restaurant you like to eat at in Washington?

GovInslee17 karma

Best milkshake = Burger Barn (Darrington, WA) Best cheeseburger = Rawhide Bar N Grill (Starbuck, WA)

mywindow2 karma

(My staff is making me do this.)

As a Governor in service to his people. I have to ask why do you show such disdain for openly speaking to us?

Can you operate a keyboard or navigate the web without assistance?

MrJudgeJoeBrown10 karma

I took it as him saying it jokingly.

GovInslee6 karma