Bill Bryant Blames Jay Inslee for Gridlock

Mike Faulk, reporter for the Yakima Herald, interviewed me recently where I discussed why Jay Inslee is responsible for the gridlock we face in Washington. The Q&A is below. 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant, in Yakima on Thursday on the tail end of a campaign swing through Eastern Washington, used the occasion to blame Gov. Jay Inslee for the budget gridlock in Olympia while also discussing ways to respond to drought.

Bryant, a Port of Seattle commissioner who lived in Yakima for seven years representing the export interests of state fruit growers, sat down with the Yakima Herald-Republic to talk about a variety of topics, from same-sex marriage to the prospect of a state shutdown, just two years after a similar budget impasse in Olympia.

Yakima Herald-Republic: The drought is supposed to have a huge impact on our local economy and raises awareness of the decreasing snowpack in the Cascades. How do we make up for that loss if it keeps decreasing over time?

Bill Bryant: We have to come up with a sustainable plan for water in Central Washington. Fifty percent of the products that come through the Port of Seattle are forest and agricultural products, and a lot of those come from Central Washington.

I think it’s critical we start to think beyond reliance on the snowpack. We’ve been very fortunate that we have this freezer (the Cascades) that captures snow and then releases it as water in the spring and summer. We need to do a better job capturing precipitation that doesn’t fall in the form of snow. And we need to start planning for that now.

YH-R: The biggest issue in state government right now is the budget gridlock in the Legislature. What do you think of the competing budget proposals in the House and Senate?

Bryant: I really hesitate to comment. We’re in the final hours and it’s all shifting very quickly. I just think it’s unnecessary to have had even one special session, let alone two, and discussions of a third.

YH-R: We had the same problem two years ago with the threat of a shutdown. How do we keep getting to this point?

Bryant: There’s an absence of leadership in the Governor’s Office. I think any governor should in July and August go around the state and talk with legislative leaders about what they want to accomplish during the next session, then go back to Olympia and look at what you as governor want to accomplish in order to fulfill your goals and figure out what the commonalities are.

That way when you submit your budget in January, it’s not dead on arrival. That’s leadership.

YH-R: Is it all on the Governor’s Office though? The legislators have to deal with each other, too.

Bryant: Sure but the governor needs to propose a budget that can be the foundation of legislative action, and he didn’t. He proposed initiatives that were dead on arrival and he has not been a constructive force in the negotiations.

YH-R: Republicans in this part of the state tend to be more conservative. You have some stances on social issues that would be seen as liberal —

Bryant: Or libertarian.

YH-R: Or libertarian, such as supporting same-sex marriage. Are voters here asking you about that?

Bryant: Some people are, but most people want to talk about education reform. They want to talk about water; they want to talk about agriculture.

YH-R: Do you think that issue isn’t as important to voters as it used to be?

Bryant: I think it’s still very important to people, but I also think it’s important to people that government promotes solid middle class jobs for people everywhere.

I’m Catholic, and I struggle to be a good Catholic. I just don’t want the government to impose my religion on other people.

YH-R: What policies do you support as far as protecting the environment in Washington state?

Bryant: Having grown up over on Hood Canal, protecting Puget Sound is very important to me. It’s somewhere between threatened and dying. I want to restore salmon, steelhead and orca populations.

It means restoring eelgrass habitat. It means having healthy rivers that flow into Puget Sound, which is one of the reasons I helped found the Nisqually River Foundation, which is set up to work with landowners in a voluntary capacity to preserve that water shed. Fifty percent of the water going into south Puget Sound comes from the Nisqually River. We can’t protect Puget Sound if we can’t protect the Nisqually.

YH-R: Whenever you talk about the environment, your role in allowing the Shell Arctic drilling rig into the port is going to come up.

Bryant: Why?

YH-R: Opponents say if you had stopped it, obviously that would have at least meant something symbolically.

Bryant: Symbolically, that’s exactly it. If we had told our tenant (Foss Maritime) you can’t have them, would that have inhibited Shell from drilling in the Arctic? No, they already have $5 billion or $6 billion invested there. This project is bringing between 200 to 400 middle class jobs to the state. While rejecting the lease might have made a symbolic statement, it would have been symbolism at the expense of the middle class.

Bryant: I think it’s still very important to people, but I also think it’s important to people that government promotes solid middle class jobs for people everywhere.

I’m Catholic, and I struggle to be a good Catholic. I just don’t want the government to impose my religion on other people.

YH-R: What policies do you support as far as protecting the environment in Washington state?

Bryant: Having grown up over on Hood Canal, protecting Puget Sound is very important to me. It’s somewhere between threatened and dying. I want to restore salmon, steelhead and orca populations.

It means restoring eelgrass habitat. It means having healthy rivers that flow into Puget Sound, which is one of the reasons I helped found the Nisqually River Foundation, which is set up to work with landowners in a voluntary capacity to preserve that water shed. Fifty percent of the water going into south Puget Sound comes from the Nisqually River. We can’t protect Puget Sound if we can’t protect the Nisqually.

YH-R: Whenever you talk about the environment, your role in allowing the Shell Arctic drilling rig into the port is going to come up.

Bryant: Why?

YH-R: Opponents say if you had stopped it, obviously that would have at least meant something symbolically.

Bryant: Symbolically, that’s exactly it. If we had told our tenant (Foss Maritime) you can’t have them, would that have inhibited Shell from drilling in the Arctic? No, they already have $5 billion or $6 billion invested there. This project is bringing between 200 to 400 middle class jobs to the state. While rejecting the lease might have made a symbolic statement, it would have been symbolism at the expense of the middle class.

Mike Foster