Gov. Inslee in Port Angeles: Talks of potential budget cuts, tankers, salmon — and says he won’t buy pot

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES –– Though his office instructed state agencies to prepare for spending reductions of 15 percent, Gov. Jay Inslee is hopeful that such preparation will prove to be unnecessary.

“It’s highly unlikely that’s going to happen, but it could potentially be a real thing,” Inslee told the Peninsula Daily News at the end of his daylong swing through Port Angeles on Wednesday.

“We are required by law to prepare a budget that uses only existing revenues,” Inslee said.

State agencies outside basic education programs could face cuts as the Legislature focuses its efforts on meeting a Supreme Court order to put an additional $1.5 billion to $2 billion into K-12 school funding as a result of the 2012 McCleary decision — so named because the lead petitioner was Stephanie McCleary, former administrative assistant at the Chimacum School District.

Inslee was hopeful the legislative branch would come up with sources of additional revenue that could offset or lessen those 15 percent cuts.

“I’m going to be very hopeful that the legislators in a bipartisan fashion will find a solution to finance the education of our kids and everything else we need,” he said.

Inslee spent the day in the Port Angeles area Wednesday, observing a change of command ceremony at Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles in the morning and speaking with Peninsula College officials about the school’s composite manufacturing training program in the early afternoon.

Later, he talked for more than an hour with the Lower Elwha Klallam tribal council in a private meeting before driving with tribal leaders to view recovery at the site of the former Elwha Dam, which has stood for a century before it was demolished in 2012 as part of a $325 million river restoration effort.

Demolition of the Glines Canyon Dam upstream is expected to be finished later this year.

“The colors are coming back to the natural blues and the greens of the river,” said Charles, chairwoman of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe.

Charles noted that removal of the dam exposed the tribe’s creation site and a 10,000-year-old campsite along the river, as well as the stumps of ancient trees that had been covered by slack water behind the dam.

She also pointed out recovering numbers of salmon migrating along the river.

“It’s kind of nice to know that nature will come back if you give her a shot,” Inslee said.

Inslee declined to comment on lawsuits this spring filed by conservancy groups against state and federal agencies who oversee the planting of hatchery broodstock to boost salmon numbers in the Elwha River.

“Before getting into the controversy, I want to get into the celebration of the river coming back,” he said.

Inslee said he spoke with Coast Guard officials earlier in the day about potential problems presented by increased traffic of cargo ships carrying coal and oil extracted from inland states and Canada for shipment to global markets through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Though the issue is on his radar, Inslee said state officials do not now have solid for handling that risk.

“This is something we’re doing, a very intense assessment of the increased risk that might come along with that,” Inslee said.

Washington residents will be able to legally buy recreational marijuana for the first time when 20-some shops are slated to open next week.

But the governor said he will not be one of them.

“I’ve got to buy milk and bread for my grandkids first,” he said.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 03. 2014 7:32PM
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