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Originally published November 14, 2012 at 5:05 PM | Page modified November 14, 2012 at 5:10 PM

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Inslee names transition co-chairs; will be hiring 'change agents'

Gov-elect Jay Inslee announced three co-chairs for his transition committee on Wednesday, drawing them from business, higher education and public schools.

Seattle Times Olympia bureau

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Gov-elect Jay Inslee announced three co-chairs for his transition committee on Wednesday, drawing them from business, higher education and public schools.

Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President Brad Smith, Renton School District Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel and Washington State University President Dr. Elson Floyd will help Inslee set up his office and staff the Cabinet.

Inslee said he'll be looking for Republicans as well as Democrats and people from business to staff his Cabinet but otherwise was short on details about his next steps and said more announcements would be made within the next couple of weeks.

"These are change agents and they are going to bring to our administration an expectation of change," Inslee said of his team at a Seattle news conference.

Inslee was asked repeatedly about Gov. Chris Gregoire's assertions the state needs to increase taxes in order to meet a state Supreme Court mandate to increase K-12 funding. Her office estimates meeting the court demands will cost the state more than $1 billion in the next two-year budget, on top of a roughly $900 million projected budget shortfall.

He stayed on the same message delivered during the campaign — taxes aren't needed.

"We are starting a team today to grow an economy to help increase revenues to the state of Washington," he said. "These three leaders are going to help me bring people to the state who can grow the economy rapidly ... which can and will increase revenues."

All three of his co-chairs, interviewed after the news conference, also kept to Inslee's talking points.

"It makes perfect sense that the more we can grow the economy the faster we can raise the revenue for the state. That's a goal the entire state can get behind," Smith said.

Smith contributed $3,200 to Inslee's GOP challenger, Rob McKenna and $1,800 to Inslee's campaign, according to state records. Floyd and Heuschel did not contribute to either campaign, although Heuschel during the campaign supported Inslee's K-12 policies.

Gregoire is expected to release her proposal for a two-year budget next month. Her staff said Inslee will not be involved in the effort, but Inslee said he'll be talking to the governor about the transition.

Andrew Garber: 360-236-8266 or agarber@seattletimes.com

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