Republicans and Democrats greeted Gregoire's entrance with applause and both parties stood to applaud her remarks at certain moments - such as when Gregoire spoke of sacrifices made by the state-government workforce and she asked for public employees to be recognized. But Republicans stayed seated amid standing, cheering Democrats when Gregoire spoke favorably of Obamacare and same-sex marriage.
Some observers noticed outgoing Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna also standing for the Obamacare reference. But Senate Majority Coalition leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, appeared to be scowling when Gregoire talked about having a state “GET” tuition account for her new new granddaughter; Tom has talked about closing the program to new enrollees but honoring obligations to those already in it.
House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt of Chehalis said after the speech that he found Gregoire’s farewell enthusiastic but that he is “extremely worried” about the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, which Gregoire supports and Gov.-elect Jay Inslee both favor.
DeBolt said Medicaid expansion could place a costly burden on the state in future years if the debt-strapped federal government cuts back on promises it has made to pay for it.
As for gay marriage, which voters approved in November, DeBolt said his members have many different views. Gregoire’s speech laid down a challenge to fund education and transportation improvements.
DeBolt’s caucus has a stock reply on school funding: pay for it first before considering any other state obligations. But he had little to say about transportation taxes, except to question why a special licensing fee for hybrid vehicles would be sought not many years after governments enacted tax breaks to encourage motorists to buy them.