Damn... they almost had me! I very nearly just about almost quite possibly agreed with absolutely everything in a 700-word-plus Seattle Times editorial aimed at state House Speaker Frank Chopp. That is, until I got to the final paragraph:
The advice is to open up the tent, let more moderate Democrats and Republicans help with the budget. Spend less and legislate more toward the middle.
Well, as long as "journalists" are handing out free advice, here's my counsel to you, Frank: don't listen to the Seattle Times and their meaningless, move-toward-the-middle, bipartisan bullshit. Unless they've discovered a way to magically pay the bills, educate the young and care for sick with mere platitudes, they clearly have no fucking idea how to responsibly balance a budget. In fact, given your reduced majority, the passage of I-1053, and our chicken-livered Supreme Court's absolute refusal to put it's collective neck on the line by considering a challenge to the clearly unconstitutional two-thirds requirement, I'd say now is the time to play political hardball.
So on second thought, maybe you should follow the Seattle Times' advice, Frank, and start thinking more like a Republican.
Can't get a two-thirds majority to raise revenue for, well, anything? Then act like the Republicans claim they would act, and start making those painful cuts. You know, by cutting things like school levy equalization.
Yeah, I know, levy equalization is good policy and all that, but let's try to approach this from a classical, free market, Republican perspective for a moment. I mean, if folks out in rural Washington are unwilling or unable to raise local school levies sufficient to educate their children, then perhaps they shouldn't even have public schools? That's the market at work, right? So why should taxpayer dollars be sucked away from school children in Seattle to help pay for schools in communities that obviously don't care enough about their children to properly educate them? At a time of budgetary crisis like this, how can we possibly afford to pay for all this rural welfare?
Or, of course, we could offer to maintain levy equalization transfers, in exchange for enough Republican votes necessary to raise the revenue to pay for them. Pay as you go: that's Republican Budgeting Philosophy 101, isn't it?
And while we're at it, let's lift the cap on local school levies. If we're no longer willing as a state to collectively fund K-12 education at an adequate level, then isn't it time to devolve these responsibilities to local communities? Local control: that's a Republican principle too, right? Surely, voters in districts like Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue and others would be willing to sufficiently tax themselves to fund quality schools, so why not let them? And if districts elsewhere can't or won't, well, rural and exurban families with school aged children are always free to move themselves into big cities like Seattle that value public education enough to, you know, pay for it. Again, the invisible hand of the free market at work. Sweet.
As for higher education, and the Seattle Times' assertion that you "lack a long-term vision" for funding it, well, haven't they ever heard of something we Republicans like to call "personal responsibility"...? We bought our daughter four years of college credits via the state's GET program ten years ago, so why should I or my child pay for other families' lack of planning? I say cut higher education spending and let the market set tuition prices. Unless, again, enough Republican lawmakers are willing to cross the aisle and join Democrats in raising the revenue necessary to pay for a quality, affordable, four-year university system for all.
Oh, I can go on and on, but I think you get the point. With revenue forecasts showing no sign of recovery, a Republican majority in the US House virtually assuring the cutting off of federal money, and I-1053's ridiculous requirements back in place, our state budget is now what economists technically refer to as "totally fucked." So hell yeah, Frank, give the Republicans what they asked for: dismantle the welfare state and finally let Republican voters in rural Washington pay for their own roads, their own healthcare and their own goddamn schools.
And who knows, Frank, maybe when enough of them finally experience the joys of Republicanism in action, you might actually even have a shot at winning the two-thirds majority necessary these days to govern responsibly.