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By Joseph Claypoole
Washington State Journal 

Inslee centers inaugural speech on COVID-19 recovery


Last updated 1/21/2021 at 10:22am

Roger Harnack, Cheney Free Press

Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his third inaugural speech Wednesday, praising Washington residents for their resiliency and striking an optimistic note for the future.

"We have seen remarkable heroism, diligence, and a stalwart commitment in our frontline workers," Inslee said. "And we have seen it in all Washingtonians...as [our] state is a resilient state, we know how to recover."

Inslee listed key issues he believes lawmakers must address during the legislative session that opened on Jan. 11. They included COVID-19, climate change, healthcare, education and affordable housing.

The big-picture, pre-recorded speech didn't include many details, including specifics on budget spending or COVID-19 vaccine accumulation and distribution.

A majority of his remarks centered around examples of resilience shown by Washingtonians across the state throughout the pandemic.

"When dozens of their colleagues were out due to COVID-19 quarantine, [Cindy Frank] kept working night and day, caring for a floor of 28 patients with limited staffing," Inslee said of Frank, a registered nurse in Bremerton.

And in Ferndale, employee-owned shoe company Superfeet shifted their 3D printing expertise toward personal protective equipment for medical workers. The company set a goal of producing 30,000 units.

"They blew right past that estimate," Inslee exclaimed. "They made close to 50,000 respirator hoods for their local hospital network...then they supplied 450,000 medical gowns."

COVID-19 relief for small businesses and employees across the state are key to rebuilding the economy, Inslee said.

"It's why I want to waive increases on the unemployment tax on businesses that never foresaw the mass layoffs that came with this pandemic," Inslee said. "We're going to keep supporting small businesses with every resource at our disposal."

One of these resources would be "fighting the federal government" for more funding and working with lawmakers to deliver financial assistance quickly.

Inslee also spotlighted the way the pandemic exacerbated uneven access to educational resources among state residents and increased housing insecurity for the many who have lost work over the last 12 months.

"We should stand in solidarity with people who live in unsafe or inadequate housing," Inslee said. "Because we know our fellow Washingtonians are more likely to succeed when they have stable housing."

The start of the NHL season also seemed to be on Inslee's mind. He shouted out the Kraken's Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, a world-first carbon-neutral stadium, as an example of the state's vanguard efforts to combat climate change.

Inslee closed his address with a quote from Abraham Lincoln. "The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation," he said. He expressed confidence residents would come together to help each other move forward as one.

"We are in solidarity," he said. "And at the end of the day, we have each other."


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