NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Democrats speak out following Republican takeover of Washington State Senate

As we report­ed ear­li­er this evening, the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate Repub­li­cans, act­ing in con­cert with three Democ­rats in Name Only (Jim Kas­ta­ma, Rod­ney Tom, and Tim Shel­don) have seized con­trol of the floor of the Leg­is­la­ture’s upper cham­ber, effec­tive­ly turn­ing the remain­der of the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus into the minor­i­ty par­ty with a week left to go in the 2012 reg­u­lar ses­sion.

On Face­book, on Twit­ter, and through their offices, many Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors are speak­ing out in oppo­si­tion to the takeover and the new­ly-mint­ed Repub­li­can major­i­ty’s attempt to ram through a bud­get that has not received any pub­lic hear­ings or scruti­ny. What fol­lows is a col­lec­tion of the state­ments they’ve shared with us over the last few hours.

Sen­a­tor Sharon Nel­son (D‑34th Dis­trict):

Tonight I am sad­dened that three Democ­rats, Sen­a­tors Jim Kas­ta­ma, Rod­ney Tom, and Tim Shel­don assist­ed the Repub­li­cans in tak­ing over the Sen­ate floor. While the Repub­li­cans may be cel­e­brat­ing, I am going through a bud­get which they just brought out of the back room. While the Democ­rats pro­vid­ed an addi­tion­al $38.7 mil­lion to K‑12 edu­ca­tion, this Repub­li­can bud­get cuts K‑12 by $44 mil­lion. While the Democ­rats’ bud­get added funds to high­er edu­ca­tion, the Repub­li­cans cut high­er edu­ca­tion by $30.4 mil­lion. Plus, the poor and work­ing fam­i­lies sus­tain a $311 mil­lion cut — 4 times the cuts in the Democ­rats’ bud­get. This is a bud­get for the top one per­cent and I can under­stand why they kept it in a back room until now.

Sen­a­tor Kevin Ranker (D‑40th Dis­trict):

I am deeply dis­ap­point­ed by the deci­sion of Sen­ate Repub­li­cans to cir­cum­vent our state’s for­mer­ly trans­par­ent bud­get­ing process to pass a bud­get that dev­as­tates our state’s safe­ty net and our K‑12 and high­er edu­ca­tion sys­tem.

Tonight, I believe per­son­al agen­das and right-wing ide­olo­gies out­weighed the need for a 21st cen­tu­ry edu­ca­tion sys­tem that pre­pares our chil­dren for a glob­al econ­o­my, com­pre­hen­sive health­care and crit­i­cal envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions.

Where­as the Demo­c­ra­t­ic bud­get makes no cuts to K‑12 and high­er edu­ca­tion, the Repub­li­cans’ bud­get slash­es K‑12 edu­ca­tion by $44 mil­lion and high­er edu­ca­tion by $30 mil­lion.

Their pro­pos­al fur­ther dev­as­tates women’s health by slash­ing funds to mater­ni­ty sup­port ser­vices and fam­i­ly plan­ning, ser­vices that Wash­ing­to­ni­ans want and need.

It sig­nif­i­cant­ly weak­ens our state’s envi­ron­men­tal and eco­log­i­cal com­mit­ment to our future by sweep­ing funds intend­ed for clean-up of tox­ic waste sites and elim­i­nat­ing over 1,000 asso­ci­at­ed jobs.

This bud­get was craft­ed in secret and is near­ly 300 pages long. At this late hour, the pub­lic has not had a chance to view this bud­get, much less under­stand the sever­i­ty of its cuts

I find today’s action to con­sti­tute an absolute dis­ser­vice to the pub­lic.

Sen­a­tor Nick Harp­er (D‑38th Dis­trict):

There is a bud­get being debat­ed this evening with­out ever hav­ing had a pub­lic hear­ing. An amend­ment that was pro­posed, which I spoke in favor of, would have restored fund­ing to our Dis­abil­i­ty Life­line Health pro­gram. This pro­gram offers health care to over 12,000 peo­ple, many of whom have severe men­tal ill­ness. The amend­ment failed. This bud­get will make our com­mu­ni­ties sig­nif­i­cant­ly less safe by dra­mat­i­cal­ly increas­ing our crime rates and deny­ing our most vul­ner­a­ble Wash­ing­to­ni­ans the ser­vices they des­per­ate­ly need and deserve.

Sen­a­tor Craig Pride­more (D‑49th Dis­trict):

Jim Kas­ta­ma and Rod­ney Tom have tak­en over the Sen­ate in order to pass the Repub­li­can agen­da for the State of Wash­ing­ton. Should be an inter­est­ing evening/weekend.

Sen­a­tor David Frockt (D‑46th Dis­trict):

The Repub­li­cans who have hijacked the bud­get tonight on the Sen­ate floor (with the help of a few Dems) have reject­ed every amend­ment we have offered except one that I just got them to take back — the one to restore their cut to fund­ing to the Col­lege Suc­cess Foun­da­tion for schol­ar­ships for dis­ad­van­taged kids. Small vic­to­ry, in an oth­er­wise out­ra­geous evening of stunts, shenani­gans and bad pol­i­cy…

Sen­a­tor Regala (D‑27th Dis­trict):

When I came to the Leg­is­la­ture in 1995, I was unfa­mil­iar with many of the process­es by which bills became the laws of our state. I had my ideas of course, but lit­tle famil­iar­i­ty with the body that I had joined. In spite of that, I was excit­ed to be a part of the process and eager to make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion.

At one of my first com­mit­tee hear­ings, I received a shock that I have not for­got­ten. The com­mit­tee chair­man, from the oppo­site par­ty, asked for my vote on a lengthy water pol­i­cy bill that I had just been hand­ed. No expla­na­tion of what it did and no oppor­tu­ni­ty to read/review it. My igno­rance of the facts, intent and effects of that bill did not mat­ter. I was being asked to vote for a bill I had no knowl­edge of.

You can imag­ine the shock and sad­ness that I felt and my dis­il­lu­sion with the process I had become a part of. Since that time, I have striv­en to be knowl­edge­able of every piece of leg­is­la­tion I cast a vote for, whether in sup­port or oppo­si­tion.

This is my final year in the State Leg­is­la­ture and I had hoped it would end with my nev­er hav­ing to feel that way again. You can imag­ine my sad­ness and dis­ap­point­ment at the actions of Sen­ate Repub­li­cans and three mem­bers of my own par­ty, which plunged the entire Sen­ate into a state of par­ti­san chaos. Once again, I was being asked to vote on a bill on which I had no knowl­edge.

This time, it is not a nar­row­ly focused pol­i­cy bill mov­ing through com­mit­tee, but a 233 page bud­get amend­ment that will cut ser­vices crit­i­cal to the lives and liveli­hoods of thou­sands of our states res­i­dents. The shame and anger I feel at today’s dis­play of the par­ti­san acts that has gripped our coun­try is over­whelm­ing.

In clos­ing, I can only promise, as I did before, to not cast a vote for a doc­u­ment that I do not under­stand or have knowl­edge of. It is our respon­si­bil­i­ty as law­mak­ers for the State of Wash­ing­ton to pass leg­is­la­tion that is in the best inter­ests of our state.

In my remain­ing days as a Sen­a­tor, how­ev­er many they may be, I pledge to con­tin­ue to fight for our state and to ensure that any bill which pass­es off the Sen­ate floor is done so with the process and pro­ce­dure that I have always believed in.

As of this hour, the Sen­ate is still in ses­sion in the Leg­isla­tive Build­ing in Olympia, with Democ­rats offer­ing amend­ment after amend­ment to the Repub­li­can major­i­ty’s bud­get pro­pos­al. Near­ly all of the amend­ments they have offered have been reject­ed by a vote of twen­ty-five to twen­ty-four.

The Repub­li­can takeover of the Sen­ate all but guar­an­tees that there will need to be a thir­ty-day spe­cial ses­sion called to con­tin­ue work­ing on a sup­ple­men­tal oper­at­ing bud­get. House Democ­rats have made it plain­ly clear that the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans’ bud­get pro­pos­al will be dead on arrival in the House, and Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire — whose sig­na­ture is need­ed to enact any bud­get — has also strong­ly con­demned it.

Nei­ther Rod­ney Tom nor Tim Shel­don will be fac­ing vot­ers this year, as both were reelect­ed in 2010 to four year terms. Jim Kas­ta­ma, on the oth­er hand, will be on the bal­lot, whether he choos­es to remain in the race for Sec­re­tary of State, or runs again for Sen­ate. (His term expires at the end of 2012).

Shel­don already had a rep­u­ta­tion as a Repub­li­can who calls him­self a Demo­c­rat. (He endorsed and sup­port­ed George W. Bush back in 2004). He could prob­a­bly win elec­tion in his some­what con­ser­v­a­tive dis­trict as a Repub­li­can. Kas­ta­ma and Tom, on the oth­er hand, rep­re­sent more pro­gres­sive dis­tricts, and have cam­paigned for office on Demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues and prin­ci­ples.

If, like us, you are appalled by what they have done ear­li­er this evening — and what they are still doing at this very hour — then let them know:

Jim Kas­ta­ma
Olympia Office: (360) 786‑7648
Dis­trict Office: (253) 840‑4701
By E‑Mail: Jim.Kastama@leg.wa.gov
PO Box 40425
Olympia, WA 98504–0425
Rod­ney Tom
Olympia Office: (360) 786‑7694
By e‑mail: Rodney.Tom@leg.wa.gov
PO Box 40448
Olympia, WA 98504–0448

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2 Comments

  1. Sen­a­tor Tom is sup­pose to rep­re­sent me, not the con­ser­v­a­tive repub­li­can right wing tea par­ty. If Sen­a­tor Tom wants to bring Alec spon­sored and Koch broth­ers sup­port­ed Wis­con­sin style “Democ­ra­cy” to Wash­ing­ton, then we’ll intro­duce him to Wis­con­sin’s rem­e­dy: Recall.

    # by stephen s :: March 3rd, 2012 at 4:51 PM
  2. A clear and pow­er­ful response is occur­ring among Democ­rats, as they have observed the bud­getary process removed from their con­trol (in spite of being in the major­i­ty in the State Sen­ate). Their
    delib­er­a­tion and analy­sis were com­plete­ly
    bypassed on March 2 at Olympia. As, e.g.,
    Sharon Nel­son stat­ed: One of the prin­ci­pal
    effects of this maneu­ver­ing is to reduce
    the fund­ing of edu­ca­tion in Wash­ing­ton,
    in terms of a reduc­tion in crit­i­cal needs.

    # by Paul Schlossman :: March 8th, 2012 at 12:48 PM