Gov. Inslee unveils $120 million jobs package

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday unveiled a $120 million jobs package that would provide tax breaks for new companies in certain fields, create 500 new slots in aerospace-training programs, and assemble a commission to ensure that the state's colleges and universities are turning out students with math- and science-based skills relevant to the economy's needs.

Inslee declined to say how many jobs he expected his package would create. But he assured it would be worth the investment and said in some cases, results could be seen in a matter of months.

"We're rolling out today an action agenda for a working Washington" with an underlying focus on innovation, growing human intellectual capital and aligning the state with the needs of new and expanding industries, Inslee said.

The Democratic governor's proposals include up to $20 million in tax breaks for businesses hiring recent military veterans and another $8 million in tax incentives for startup companies in fields ranging from industrial-machinery manufacturing to software publishing.

With climate change a central campaign theme for Inslee, he also said he planned to engage the Legislature in creating a plan that would grow the state's economy while limiting its carbon footprint.

Along similar lines, Inslee proposed several million dollars to be spent on electrical energy storage and building electric car charging stations.

Inslee also said he expected that the state's expansion of Medicaid using federal dollars - approval of which is under consideration in the Legislature - would create more than 10,000 jobs.

The governor added that he supported a robust transportation spending plan and did not rule out backing a rise in the state's gas tax to help fund it.

Republican leaders in the Legislature declared themselves broadly supportive of Inslee's job-creation goals but insisted time is of the essence, with only a few days left for legislative committees to hear new policy-related bills.

"It's one thing to go out and say you're going to change the world and do something different," said House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, a Republican from Chehalis. "But if you miss your timelines - oops - then that doesn't work for anybody. So he's got to pick up the pace."

Sen. Rodney Tom, a Medina Democrat who leads the GOP-dominated majority, applauded the governor's focus on job creation but lamented his cool reception to recently passed Senate legislation to save businesses money by reducing workers' compensation costs.


Associated Press writer Rachel La Corte contributed to this report.