In response to Republicans seizing control of the senate floor this afternoon to pass an essentially secret budget, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and Senator Ed Murray said in a just-released statement:
This is a breaking of faith and the bipartisan agreement we reached last year. Since the fall, we have worked personally with ranking Republican Sen. Zarelli in countless meetings. Our team consistently asked to see a Republican counterproposal to our ideas. We saw it on day 44 of a 60-day session this year. We continued to meet with our Republican counterparts and seek a bipartisan solution. It didn’t come. Promising and not delivering is not how you write a budget.
Skipping a pension payment, gutting state services and subverting the public process is not how you write a budget. Ignoring the stories of the people who spent 12 hours in committee hearings talking about how their lives would be changed by the budget cuts we faced, the people who would lose a quality education, the people who feared they would become homeless – disregarding our citizens – that is not how you write a responsible budget.
UPDATE: Furious Democrats have invoked a right to have this secret bill read in full—which could take forever—and now we're having a giant debate over senate rules.
UPDATE 2: The Democrats appear to have won this particular part of the debate. The 233 page bill is now being read. If you'd like to read along, a copy of the bill is right here!
UPDATE 3: And you can watch the insanity live right here.
UPDATE 4: Tim Sheldon, one of the Democrats who sided with Republicans to create this standoff, says in a statement:
My votes today and tonight were not partisan votes, they are votes for a responsible budget without accounting tricks or gimmicks.
As a businessman and a local government official, I see a clear and urgent need for a balanced budget.
I have read the proposed budget as amended. I don’t agree with everything in it, but it is a point to start negotiations with the House. There are many problems with the House budget. This action places a conservative budget proposal on the table.
I firmly believe we need less government spending, more fiscal responsibility and better prioritization of spending, with education first and support for our seniors.
UPDATE 5: A pause in the reading of the "secret" bill as everyone breaks for dinner—and, likely, screams at each other with their mouths full trying to figure out how to get out of this mess.
UPDATE 6: Well, I don't know how much dinner their eating, but word from the ground is that the Dems are now behind closed doors, and the staff has been kicked out. Oh to be a fly on the wall. (—Goldy)
UPDATE 7: They've been back on the floor for some time, the Democrats proposing amendments to save programs, and Republicans voting them down. It's a good show at times, but it's just that, a show. With newly minted Republicans Kastama, Tom, and Sheldon on board (and let's be honest, that's what they are: Republicans), the R's have the votes they need to do what they want. Their budget will pass—tricks, cuts, and all—and that's that. (—Goldy)