A broad take on Jay Inslee, in the few months since he was elected and then sworn in as Washington's governor, has been that he's full of smiles and intentions of working with everybody, but that there's not been a lot of coming down clearly on policy, one way or another.
That ended today, as these things often do, with numbers.
His proposed budget calls for $1.2 billion in targeted education increases, among other things. His thematic statement was that “I feel deeply that my number one priority is to help rebuild our economy, get people working again, and take important steps toward building a workforce for the future. And that begins with education.”
Also begins with spending more than Republicans would like, and that's notably important among the Republicans who now control the Senate.
From Inslee's press release: "Inslee has said repeatedly that the state cannot fund its basic education obligations by making deeper cuts to vital services for children, seniors and vulnerable adults. Instead, the Governor proposes closing tax breaks and extending tax rates set to expire June 30 — a 0.3 percent business and occupation tax surcharge paid by doctors, lawyers, accountants and others and a 50-cent-per gallon beer tax."
That sets out with some clarity what he wants to do. It also marks out the battleground for the remainder of the session - or, if he holds to his determination (he and the House Democrats), however many subsequent special sessions lie in wait.
This has become a battle of wills. If Inslee's approach has been to build up political chits till now, he's reached the point where spending them will become necessary.
Washington's legislative session is about to get a lot more interesting: The sides have now begun to fully collide.