State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch

OLYMPIA – In a blistering address to the Washington Public Utility District Association, Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, calls Gov. Jay Inslee oblivious to the growing economic problems created by his response to the coronavirus crisis. By shutting out the Legislature, Sheldon says the governor is going to make things even worse.

Last week the Seattle Times reported that the governor has decided he won’t call a special session this year. That means Washington lawmakers will be unable to weigh in on critical issues until they return to Olympia in January for their 2021 regular legislative session. Because the Legislature represents the people of Washington, the decision means the public will have no voice for the next six months.

“What we really have is a failure of leadership by Gov. Jay Inslee,” Sheldon said. “The governor has been oblivious to the needs of business and utilities, and the 4 million Washington residents who work for a living. Right when we’re trying to get back to work, this is going to make it that much harder to put things back together again.

Sheldon continued, “If we keep going down this path, there are much worse things ahead. Now the health and survival of our economy is at stake. This failure of leadership isn’t just oblivious, it’s dangerous.”

Sheldon, the longest-serving member of the state Legislature, said the governor flabbergasted Olympia the past month with his decision not to call a special session.  The economic shutdown has left the state with an $8.8 billion shortfall. Under similar circumstances, every previous governor has called lawmakers back to Olympia to make quick cuts to spending. The governor’s decision means lawmakers will have to make even deeper cuts later.

Sheldon noted that there are a number of proposals for massive tax increases to be considered the next time lawmakers return to Olympia. By waiting until after the election, Sheldon says tax advocates avoid a public rebuke. “The left sees an opportunity to restructure our economy and society to its liking,” he said. “They want to take the ball and run with it, and make things even worse.”

In his remarks, Sheldon, a former commissioner in Mason County Public Utility District No. 1, observed that public utility districts face a financial crisis because of the governor’s executive order allowing customers to skip paying their electric bills. Sheldon acknowledges that the state needed to take quick action when COVID hit in March, and some disruption was inevitable. But Sheldon says Inslee’s blunt meat-axe approach has made things much worse than they need to be.

“He made economic activity the enemy. But the economy wasn’t the enemy. It was COVID-19.”

Rather than stopping activities that posed the greatest risk of disease transmission, Inslee’s shutdown orders targeted entire swaths of the economy. As a result of sweeping edicts, some 700,000 people are out of work – a tenth of the population.

Sheldon said the near-collapse of the state’s unemployment system shows the state wasn’t up to the challenge. “We gave a half-billion dollars to Nigerian princes. Some people still haven’t gotten their money.”

Other decisions appeared to serve the governor’s political agenda – like throwing open the doors of the state’s prisons, when adequate facilities were available to treat prisoners in isolation. Already prisoners released under Inslee’s program are being arrested for new crimes.

“I want to leave you with a final thought,” Sheldon said. “There is an old saying among Democrats. The saying goes, ‘a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.’

“I guess the first thing you need to do is make sure there’s a crisis. State government seems to be doing a great job of that.

“I sure hope nobody is really thinking that way. This is my 30th year in the Legislature, and never have I been as frightened about the state’s future as I am today.”

(4) comments

Steve Ness

While not a fan of Governor Inslee, it sure sounds to me like Sheldon would rather Washington State give emphasis to the economy - rather than the health of Washington State residents! No better example of the failure of concentrating on opening up the economy can be seen in the southern states that tried that and have seen their numbers skyrocket!

For evidence that that sad policy has failed one only need look arouns the world to see which countries are now returning to a largely virus free robust economies.

But their is even a sadder take away from Sheldon's comments and that is he manifest hatred between people who want to protect health and those who want a robust economy. That is NOT the question and shame on Tim for just throwing more hatred into our political wars.

We all want a robust economy and we use to be able to address monstrous threats to our way of life by working together as a Nation. Both sides working towards that goal rather than simple minded name calling.

Lee Fraser

Yes Governor Inslee has made some very broad and difficult decisions for us regarding the corona virus. It seems that Sheldon is now in his Republican mode and trying to make political hay at the expense of a man who knows the ramifications of his decisions both for the citizens of the state but for himself politically. I doubt that sheldon has the same political courage much less the same ethical drive to do what he feels is the right thing relative to this disease. Why is it that the Republican party and its members are so much more concerned with money than health? don't they realize it's their health too? Pathetic

Tee Breeze

Tim lost my respect as a County Commissioner when he flipped on his support for much needed Mason County parks but I think he is spot on here.

Kenneth Sebby

Tim is right! Inslee is all about only himself and his Democrat Cronies! The voters of WA are Lemmings!

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