Joint statement: Braun and Stokesbary comment on end to Inslee’s vaccine mandate

May 10, 2023

Gov. Jay Inslee announced today that he will rescind requirements related to COVID-19 vaccination for state employees. House Republican Leader Drew Stokesbary and Senate Republican Leader John Braun released the following statement in response to the governor’s directive:

“Just as Governor Inslee was slow to end his COVID state of emergency, he’s been equally behind the times in ending this discriminatory vaccination mandate. Republican legislative leaders called on the governor to take this step more than 14 months ago. It’s as though he finally made the connection between his vaccine requirement and the great difficulty our state agencies are having with filling vacancies.

“This mandate went too far from the start. It cost many state employees their careers and livelihoods. Republicans warned there could be problems and recommended a more pragmatic approach. The governor went ahead anyway with one of the most extreme policies in the nation. Everyone has seen the staffing shortages and disruptions in state services caused by his unilateral decision – especially at Washington State Ferries and the Washington State Patrol.

“Around 1,900 state employees were either terminated or left their jobs due to the governor’s shortsighted approach. There are more than 1,550 state positions vacant today. If any of these experienced former public servants are still willing to return to state government, after Governor Inslee showed them the door, they should receive priority when applying and should receive pension service credit for the months when they were barred from their prior employment. House Bill 1814 was introduced this year with these goals in mind.

“This also calls into question the governor’s choice to agree to $1,000 vaccine-booster incentive payments for state employees. Those could cost taxpayers $50 million – money that would be better put toward something like helping K-12 students recover from the pandemic-related learning loss so many have suffered. It’s fiscally irresponsible and shows how misguided his priorities are.”

Learn more:

  1. State Rep. Corry, KC Councilmember Dunn team up to help those fired over vaccine mandates | House Bill 1814 | February 14, 2023
  2. Follow Oregon’s example – end state-employee vaccine mandate, say Republican leaders | March 4, 2022
  3. Republican leaders oppose vaccine mandate for the private sector | November 6, 2021
  4. Republican leaders: Today’s vaccine deadline threatens critical services, public safety | October 18, 2021
  5. Letter to Gov. Jay Inslee on opposition to vaccine mandates, concerns with labor shortages | August 20, 2021