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Inslee unveils jobs plan with focus on energy

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee unveiled a jobs program Monday at a Seattle factory. Inslee said that if his plan would help put Washingtonians back to work .

A long-time environmentalist, Inslee believes that big opportunities  exist for thousands of “green” jobs in alternative energy, in biofuels, and in energy efficiency.

“This is an industry that can unite both sides of the Cascade Mountains,” Inslee said.  “Where farmers in Colfax and welders in South Seattle are equal partners.  Where the wind from the east can power the skyscrapers in the west.”

Inslee’s proposal includes selected tax breaks for companies to encourage them and help give them a jumpstart.  He acknowledged today that his plan would therefore cost the state money, but would not commit to a specific amount.  He said that over the long run it would pay for itself by increasing employment.

Inslee argued that the green industry’s equivalent to Microsoft is out there, and that government can help play a role in incubating job-creating businesses.

“We are creating whole new industries,” he said.  “When we do this, of course there are failures.  Thomas Edison made 3000 light bulbs that didn’t work before he made one that did.”

Republicans have long been skeptical of “green sector” jobs.  They point to the recent bankruptcy of  Solyndra, a solar company that received federal support.  They argue that government help for green sector companies does not have a great track record.

 “If you have people on Wall Street, and venture capitalists not willing to make that investment,” said Kirby Wilbur, State Republican Party Chair, “Governor’s and legislators shouldn’t make that investment either.”

In addition to a big push for green jobs, Inslee also talked Monday about encouraging more aerospace jobs. The key to expanding that industry is improving education in science and technology, he said.

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