The Stand

‘The bugle of justice never sounds retreat;’ moving forward in WA

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By JEFF JOHNSON


OLYMPIA (Jan. 12, 2017) — These were the words and sentiments shared by the Rev. Leslie Braxton of the New Beginnings Christian Fellowship of Kent during his invocation before Wednesday’s swearing in of statewide elected officials in Washington state in the House Chambers. He prayed that our Washington not be inflicted with the bias, hatred, and backwardness introduced at the national level during the presidential campaign. Justice, fairness and kindness requires us to move forward not backwards. Always forward.

These words set up Governor Jay Inslee’s inaugural address, which implored us and challenged us to live up to the values of the signers of our state constitution to fully fund K-12 education. And to fund education in way that provides real opportunities for all of our children, not just some of them; that funds education that recognizes that a four-year degree is not the only path to success for our kids but provides career-connected opportunities for those of our children who want to go from high school into the workforce; that funds education so we can recruit and retain great teachers.

The governor praised the bipartisanship that has allowed us to pass an historic transportation package, expand early learning, and bring hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians health care coverage. And he implored the State Legislature to use that same work ethic, strong values, and knowing the right thing to do to fully fund basic education.

Gov. Inslee made the case that while we have made some progress over the last several years, 2017 was the year to finally solve our education funding problem. And to do it in such a way that we don’t cut other public services that our students and their families depend on. It is time to raise real revenue to do justice for our kids, our teachers, and our communities.

While recognizing it is never easy to raise revenue, the governor made the case for protecting low and middle income families from increases in property and sales taxes, and suggested that those who can afford to pay more do so on their investment income and that polluters pay for their pollution.

Both the challenge and the opportunity lie in front of us. The governor is raising the right ideas and has opened up the possibility for rigorous debate and solution.

The governor ended his inaugural address contrasting who we are as a state from Washington, D.C.:

“No matter what happens in that Washington, here in this Washington, we will not forget who we are. We will not turn our back on the progress we have made. Our commitment to equal rights and human dignity will not be diminished.

“Washington will remain a place where no one can be discriminated against because of the color of their skin, their country of origin, how they worship, or who they love.

“Washington will remain a place where women have access to the full range of health care and family planning services they need, a place where we continue to fight for equal pay and equal opportunity.

Washington will stand up proudly for DREAMers and for those who come here in search of safety and refuge. We will stand strong against anyone who would rob hardworking young Washingtonians of the promise of a college degree or a chance at a decent job.”

Bravo, Governor Inslee!

It is now time for us to sound the bugle of justice.


15-Jeff-JohnsonJeff Johnson is President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the Evergreen State, representing the interests of more than 600 local unions and approximately 450,000 rank-and-file union members.

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