Yeah sure, there's still another week in the current session, but the Senate Republicans' nuclear parliamentary maneuver today guarantees a budget deadlock and a special session or three. The Republicans will pass their budget in the Senate—there's no way to stop it—but there's also no way this budget gets through the House anywhere near its current form, and there just isn't the time this late in the session to negotiate some sort of compromise.
The Republican leaders and their three ex-Democratic collaborators had to know this when they chose to violate both precedence and decorum in such an insulting, anti-democratic, and heavy-handed manner. There is now absolutely no chance of passing a budget this session. None. Zero. Nada.
But tonight's proceedings are more than just the kickoff to an acrimonious special session. The Republicans expect to win control of the Senate this November—possibly girded by a Rob McKenna victory in the governor's race—and this is a clear indication of how they plan to govern: Capriciously, dishonestly, unilaterally, and in a totally partisan manner. Their goal is to take advantage of what's left of the Great Recession to defund and destroy what's left of our state's social safety net and regulatory capacity.
Even K-12 education, for which Republicans love to voice their support, endures another $40 million in cuts in the Senate Republican budget. Total. Fucking. Liars.
No, a budget is not possible this session, and possibly not in the special session either—or the next—because it's starting to dawn on Democrats that there's nothing to be gained from negotiating with terrorists or appeasing tyrants. Make no mistake: Republicans want to do to Washington what they've done to Wisconsin, and if it means grinding state government to a stop to oppose them, then so be it.
This is war. And the Republicans started it.
UPDATE: Speaking of war, twice now Senator Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) has made impassioned speeches defending education programs from brutal cuts, and twice Republicans have responded by threatening to sanction him for "impugning the motives" of the budget writers, and violating "decorum." Yup. That's how Republicans plan to play this game once they're in control: Censure the opposition into silence.
What a total bunch of assholes.
UPDATE 2: Speaking of assholes, Senator Dan Swecker (R-Rochester) is now speaking in defense of cutting $3 million from the K-12 "Readiness to Learn" program in order to fund prizes at state fairs, pointing out that his own son was home-schooled, and thus never spent a day at public schools. Get it? He didn't choose to send his son to public schools, thus they don't deserve funding. Ass. Hole.
UPDATE 3: The Senate Dems have released a fact sheet, which I've appended after the jump.
UPDATE 4: I've been a pretty vocal critic of the Dems' "Roadkill Caucus", but today we see the difference between being a Roadkill Dem and a total traitor. Democratic Senators Steve Hobbs and Brian Hatfield remain Democrats, while Senators Ro_ney Tom and Jim Kastama have abandoned their party by facilitating this undemocratic GOP coup.
"Our caucus is about reform of government through efficiency and transparency, not going behind the backs of our fellow members, wrote Hatfield in a statement. "This move is the antithesis of transparency, respect and fairness," added Hobbs.
UPDATE 5: Hey... looks like House Speaker Frank Chopp agrees with my assessment:
"The Senate Republicans have exercised the worst abuse of power I have ever witnessed in the legislature. It says something about them that the minute they gained power, they abused it.
With this stunt, the Republicans have poisoned the political well for a generation.
UPDATE 6: Senator Ed Murray (D-Seattle): "It is a narrow, extremist agenda that is being shoved down our throats tonight."
Senator Kevin Ranker (D-San Juan Islands): "Last year I was proud, this year I am disgusted."
Senator Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way): "I am embarrassed and appalled."
Senator Karen Keiser (D-Kent): "We can't negotiate in good faith when we don't have credibility and trust."
UPDATE 7 (12:47 AM): Well, that's it, the Republican coup budget passes 25-24, totally poisoning the political well in Olympia. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown: "Well congratulations Mr. Minority Leader, you fooled me."
In listening to the closing comments from members of both parties, it's kinda stunning how much the R's fail to comprehend the level of animosity they have generated. They have the votes to pass what they want in the Senate, but they're smoking crack if they think that this procedural fuck you is going to lead to a spirit of bipartisan cooperation in the House.
You want to transform legislators into Goldy-style Democrats? This is the way to do it.
Now off to bed so I can get up tomorrow morning and fuck with the Republican caucus with renewed vigor.
The Senate Republican budget: Cuts, delays and transfers
After circumventing the public process to force a vote on their preferred state budget Friday night, Senate Republicans made a series of unsupportable claims on their suddenly unveiled budget:
Here’s a breakdown of some of the Republicans’ more remarkable claims:
BUDGET CLAIM: “Appropriates more for K-12 and Higher Education combined than any other budget proposal.”
FACT: The Republican budget cuts $43.9 million from K-12 education. It cuts $30.4 million from colleges and universities. The Republican claim is based on counting a one-day delay in school funding as a “cut.” This word play tries to couch a continuous level of service as a reduction – even when no teacher or student would see reduced funding. See a side-by-side comparison prepared by nonpartisan staff.
BUDGET CLAIM: “Programs for elderly, disabled and mentally ill are reduced less than any other budget proposal.”
FACT: This reveals the Republican view of exactly who is vulnerable in our society. It first calls a change in Medicaid billing designed to bring in $15.8 million a “cut” and later describes it as a “bed tax.” Meanwhile, for services for people who are just as vulnerable, the Republicans cut $311 million in spending and services. They cut $202 million in support for poor children and families, $42.6 million from housing support, and $13.9 million from food assistance. See a side-by-side comparison prepared by nonpartisan staff.
BUDGET CLAIM: The Republican budget is “free of gimmicks.”
FACT: The budget proposed by Republicans relies on “pension reform” that actually postpones a $133-million scheduled payment into state pension plans. SB6378 (Remember that the Democratic proposal to delay school payments was described by Republicans as a “gimmick.”) They also rely on a $67-million diversion of hazardous substance taxes into the general fund, most of which is a one-time cash grab, which will also negatively impact cleanup activities statewide. See a side-by-side comparison prepared by nonpartisan staff.
BUDGET CLAIM: Republicans are enacting reforms like a four-year balanced budget amendment to the state Constitution, and count as savings changes in community corrections.
FACT: These are Democratic proposals that passed the Senate. Senate Joint Resolution 8222 and Senate Bill 6204 both received bipartisan support.