While it's at least comforting to see most of our state's daily newspapers endorsing Democratic Sen. Patty Murray over Republican foreclosure speculator Dino Rossi, there's one repetitive tidbit in these editorials that just, well, strikes me as galling: the popular myth that Rossi deserves credit for balancing a state budget.

For example, in the Seattle Times endorsement of Sen. Murray, just about the only unqualified compliment they could toss Rossi's way was praise for his allegedly "impressive credibility balancing a state budget," while the Columbian, in their endorsement of Rossi, was even more effusive:

In 2003 Rossi was a state senator and, as chairman of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, he played a major role in writing the state budget. Not only did Rossi bridge partisan gaps in ways that were unseen this year in Olympia, he balanced a budget without raising taxes, something else unseen in Olympia this year.


Problem is, that's not really the way the 2003-2005 budget played out. In fact it was Democratic Gov. Gary Locke who first proposed an all-cuts budget, and Rossi who merely followed up a couple months later with a few modifications to make it even more draconian.

Don't believe a foul-mouthed, partisan, liberal blogger like me? Then perhaps you'll trust the Seattle Times own contemporaneous reporting from April 2, 2003, under the no-lines-to-read-between headline, "Senate budget in line with Locke's":

The Republican budget has much in common with the all-cuts plan that Democratic Gov. Gary Locke unveiled in December. In fact, Rossi opened a press briefing yesterday with a PowerPoint presentation titled: "Following the Governor's Lead."

The Columbian can laud Rossi all it wants for "bridging partisan gaps," but how hard was it when a Democratic governor presented him with what was essentially a Republican budget? Indeed, far from writing the 2003-2005 budget, Rossi himself described his efforts as merely "following the governor's lead..." you know, except for proposing to cut an additional 46,000 children from Medicaid, Rossi's most substantial deviation from the Governor's plan, and one which fortunately did not even make it into the final draft.

At least, that's the way the 2003-2005 budget process was reported at the time. It wasn't until a year later, during his 2004 bid for the governor's mansion, that our local media accepted Rossi's revisionist narrative unchallenged, and the myth of Rossi the Bipartisan Budget Writer Extraordinaire was born.

And it's a myth that will prove enduring, not just because our local media now has six years invested in promoting it, but because, really, apart from that, what else is there to write about Rossi's relatively unremarkable legislative career, other than his dogged opposition to abortion and gay rights?