Representative Deb Eddy thinks I'm unhelpful. Yesterday, when I suggested that Senate Dems might want to express their ire at Senator Jim Kastama's betrayal by withdrawing their endorsements of him in his run for Secretary of State, Eddy took issue with my call for party discipline, responding on Facebook that "with commentary like this, I wouldn't be looking for Sen. Kastama to vote for any Democratic budget."
Uh-huh. As if the real obstacle to progress in Olympia is bloggers like me. If only political commentary was still the exclusive reserve of writers handpicked by wealthy daily newspaper publishers, our budgets would be in perpetual balance.
But undaunted by criticism (as always), I have another suggestion for Senate Democratic leaders seeking to restore order to their caucus: It is time to yank the chairmanship of the Higher Education Committee away from Kastama co-conspirator Senator Ro_ney Tom (_-Medina).
While not himself issuing a call to action, I think Bill Lyne of the United Faculty of Washington State lays out as compelling an argument as any for relieving Tom of his committee chairmanship:
Senator Tom was particularly quiet Friday night. His support for the Zarelli budget is particularly disheartening for those of us in higher education. We’ve always hoped that Senator Tom, as chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, would somehow see his way clear to genuinely supporting our state’s outstanding universities and colleges. In the budget that Senate Democrats presented last week (the budget that people actually got to read and testify about), Senators Ed Murray, Lisa Brown and Derek Kilmer showed a lot of leadership and courage in finally proposing no more cuts to education. As Senator Tom sat down with his Republican pals to write the coup budget, we would have hoped that he would have insisted, as the chair of Higher Education, that another $38 million not be cut from an already decimated system. As the 25th and deciding vote, you’d think he could’ve gotten at least that in the deal.
The Democratic budget defended higher education from further cuts. The Republican budget, for which Tom was the 25th vote, slashed another $30-plus million. Tom didn't just betray his fellow Democrats. He betrayed the colleges and universities his committee oversees, and the tens of thousands of students who attend them.
If the Democratic leadership wants to hold off on disciplining their wayward caucus members in the hope of luring them back into the fold, fine. But I can't think of a more fitting punishment for Tom than to pull his chairmanship of a committee he failed to serve faithfully.