Rep. Gina McCabe delivers response to governor’s State of the State speech

Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, delivered the Republican response to the governor's state of the state speech today in Olympia.

McCabe focused on securing a better future for Washingtonians by preparing students for the marketplace and changing industry needs, improving the economic landscape statewide to attract and retain jobs, and government remaining accountable to taxpayers by exercising fiscal responsibility in state budgeting.

“As a business owner, I've balanced budgets, made tough decisions and built lifelong relationships with the people who depend on me for a paycheck. I've also seen how government regulations have hindered business growth, and how they have affected an employer's ability to create and retain jobs,” McCabe said. “We must foster an environment conducive to job growth so families can offer themselves and their children a better tomorrow.”

Also acknowledged during her speech was the Legislature's efforts to comply with the state Supreme Court's McCleary ruling and provide full funding for basic K-12 education. McCabe cited the already 48 percent of the state operating budget funds going toward K-12 education, and suggested student success requires both dollars and additional career and technical education opportunities.

“Success in and for our schools shouldn't solely be measured by the amount of dollars in the system. Dropping more money in the bucket does little good if our students aren't prepared for the job market. We must emphasize better student outcomes and closing the skills gap,” she said.

She also emphasized the need for accountability at all levels of government, including the Legislature.

“You hired us to do a job – prioritize spending, fund essential programs and ensure the investments we make lead to results. Like any manager would, we ask that you hold us to that commitment and share your ideas for moving Washington forward. It's our duty to be your voice,” said McCabe.

McCabe's full speech is below.

Rep. Gina McCabe
Republican response to governor's State of the State address
Jan. 11, 2017

Hello, I'm State Representative Gina McCabe. It's an honor to be here today speaking with you about the values we share as Washingtonians.

We've just ended a tough election cycle. As a result, some have disengaged from politics and their government. While I can understand their frustrations, together we can make a positive difference.

This is an exciting time for our state. With a closely divided Legislature, we have great opportunities for bipartisan, balanced solutions to advance. Will there be times we disagree? Absolutely. But there are good people on both sides of the aisle committed to making Washington state an even better place to live, work and raise a family.

There is far more that unites us than divides us in our state Legislature. We agree every child deserves a quality education, regardless of their ZIP code. We believe people should have the opportunity and ability to hold good-paying jobs that provide for them and their families. We want to find ways for commuters to spend less time idling in traffic and more time with friends and family. We care deeply about the most vulnerable among us, and want to connect people to pathways that can offer hope and a bright future. We value the health of our environment and public lands, and seek policies that promote sustainability and stewardship. And we agree that if we send your hard-earned dollars to state agencies, they should function with integrity and accountability.

House Republicans have three major priorities that help guide the decisions we make in Olympia: provide students with a world-class education; empower families and strengthen communities; and protect taxpayers by holding state agencies accountable.

When it comes to education, we have a unique constitutional obligation to fulfill. It is the paramount duty of our state to fully fund basic public education for all Washington children. We've made historic investments in K-12 education the last four years, including smaller K-3 class sizes, full-day kindergarten, and teacher raises. More than 48 percent of the state operating budget is now dedicated to K-12 education. But the work isn't done. And the progress we make will no doubt be one of the biggest headlines in 2017.

Success in and for our schools shouldn't solely be measured by the amount of dollars in the system. Dropping more money in the bucket does little good if our students aren't prepared for the job market. We must emphasize better student outcomes and closing the skills gap. Today, more than three out of four job openings in Washington require education beyond high school. By 2023, that number is projected to increase, and most of those positions will require mid-level education or training. Despite the need for an educated workforce, less than a third of Washington students go on to attain a post-secondary credential today. In order to prepare our students for Washington jobs, we must expand career and technical education opportunities in our public schools.

Increasing these opportunities and improving other K-12 programs is just the beginning. Last biennium, Republicans led the charge in reducing tuition at our state colleges and universities. By cutting tuition, we lessened and, for some, eliminated a major financial hurdle for those who believe post-secondary education is out of reach. We've also championed other solutions to make higher education more affordable, including freezing tuition, and finding ways to reduce the costs of textbooks and course materials.

The future of our economy is bright, but it hinges on our ability to ensure our students can compete in the marketplace and adapt to changing industry needs.

We must empower our families today if we want to secure the health and prosperity of our state for future generations. Every Washingtonian should have the opportunity to contribute to – and benefit from – a healthy, robust economy.

As a business owner, I've balanced budgets, made tough decisions and built lifelong relationships with the people who depend on me for a paycheck. I've also seen how government regulations have hindered business growth, and how they have affected an employer's ability to create and retain jobs. And with a higher minimum wage to be phased in the next four years, the impacts it will have on small businesses, rural economies and teen employment are concerning.

We must foster an environment conducive to job growth so families can offer themselves and their children a better tomorrow. It's troubling the governor has released a budget that relies on billions of dollars of new taxes. These proposals do not foster business expansion, they stifle it. And they would hit hardest employers and people who are the very backbone of our economy. Even more troubling is some of the revenue to pay for his spending plan would come from a carbon tax.

Like the governor, we are also committed to preserving the beautiful environment we've had entrusted to us. That's why we've been a part of collaborative solutions to: clear fish passages; prevent wildfires; prioritize forest health; remove old legacy nets throughout the Puget Sound, and so much more.

We are proud to have the sixth cleanest state economy in the country and boast more than 100,000 green jobs. Should we strive to be number one? Of course we should! Our healthy environment and focus on clean energy is what attracts so many families, job-seekers and employers alike. But the governor's proposals would have little impact on the global challenges our environment faces.

And let's recognize just how far we've already come. Washington now emits less CO2 than we did in 1990, despite population increases. That's exceptional.

Efforts to be responsible stewards of our land shouldn't come at an expense of job creation. Instead, our high standards of habitat protection should work in harmony with our efforts to grow the economy.

With unsustainable proposals that target hard-working Washingtonians and key industries, it's no wonder people are so frustrated by government – they don't feel like their voices are being heard in Olympia.

If you ask any CEO, business owner or manager: in order to earn the trust of your employees, you must be transparent and maintain a high level of integrity. We, as lawmakers, were hired by the people of our legislative districts to do a job – make government work more effectively, and steward your hard-earned tax dollars responsibly.

Unfortunately, the governor's most recent budget proposal would cost taxpayers billions.

Seattle's strong economy has been used as an indicator that the overall state economy is also improving. While this success should be celebrated, robust growth is not shared statewide.

Communities in Grays Harbor, Skamania and Klickitat counties, once home to booming timber industries, tell an all too familiar tale that represents a vast number of small, rural towns that have faced economic devastation. Take Grays Harbor, for example. With closures of two mills the past decade, hundreds of family wage jobs have been lost.

The economic landscape in the Puget Sound is much different. In King County, 20 percent of the households earn an income of $150,000 or more. Compare that to Grays Harbor, Cowlitz, or even my own Klickitat County, where only five percent or less of households take in that level of income.

Despite the uneven economic landscape, the governor has offered a spending plan that is unsustainable and doesn't include many tough decisions. His taxes would generate $11 billion over the next four years yet this is still not enough to support his new spending proposals. What's more is some of these taxes have already been rejected by both the Legislature and you, the voters, in the past.

We need serious solutions that will advance our economy statewide, prioritize schools and essential services, and encourage job growth and business investment.

Government accountability doesn't start and end with the governor. But when people continue to see high-profile failures in our state's transportation, correctional and mental health systems, it's easy to understand why public trust has eroded over time.

Let me be clear: our state has great public employees that administer critical programs and services for Washingtonians. We respect and appreciate these dedicated employees. But we must continue to hold the leadership of state agencies accountable for their decisions and results.

And yes, when we talk about government accountability, that includes the Legislature.

We are ultimately responsible for what proposals reach the governor's desk. You hired us to do a job – prioritize spending, fund essential programs and ensure the investments we make lead to results. Like any manager would, we ask that you hold us to that commitment and share your ideas for moving Washington forward. It's our duty to be your voice.

Thank you so much…and may God bless each of you and this beautiful state.

 

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov