State senate minority leader Ed Murray (D-43), who is also running for mayor of Seattle, issued a statement last night that predicts the Republican-controlled senate majority will drive the state off a fiscal cliff next week. "Washington appears to be headed for a shutdown of state services," says an e-mail sent last night by the senate's Democratic press secretary, which comes as both parties remain at an impasse during a second special legislative session.

Although his statement is soundbite-y, Murray is blunt:

“The 8,000 employees at our state corrections system will be reduced to 3,000, and those layoffs will include our community corrections officers,” Murray says. “Sex offenders will no longer be tracked. Our state prisons will close to new offenders, sending them instead to our already overburdened county jail facilities.”

More to the point of the progressive agenda: Schools won't be able to budget, Murray continues, while programs to help the hungry, assist kids in preschool, provide services to the mentally ill, and to aide other vulnerable populations will run dry.

The awful part about this scenario is that it's a microcosm of the entire state's awful problem. To enact a Republican agenda, all the senate GOP (and its two Democratic turncoats who have joined them, Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon) have to do is nothing. Do nothing and the state's structural revenue deficit starves universities, K-12 schools, health care, and capital investments. When we declare some service or other an emergency, we fund it with a regressive tax that proportionately saps the poor. The GOP wins a conservative agenda for decades simply by keeping Olympia at loggerheads.

This year's budget battle is just a tiny example. As Murray points out, the people who will bear the brunt of a government shutdown are the same populations the GOP is trying to screw over with their budget proposal (the seriously ill, the disabled, students). The budget proposal the Democrats refuse to pass. So, you know, they screw the poor by getting their Republican budget or by not getting their Republican budget.

What's astounding about all this is that our state's Democrats aren't trying to restructure the narrative, the progressive narrative Obama and US Senator Elizabeth Warren used to win last year: We believe everybody deserves a chance to succeed, and if you're very wealthy—if you're profiting richly from the the labor force—you must pay for more schools, clinics, and infrastructure so that others may succeed. Until that value is popularized and inherent to thinking about Olympia, Democrats will never have the wind at their back and Republicans will win by default. Maybe Democratic leaders like Ed Murray, Frank Chopp, Chris Gregoire, and Jay Inslee underestimate their influence. But if they want to secure a progressive, sustainable budget, they need to find their star power and get over their fear that mainstream voters resent Olympia. I don't care what anyone says, voters are tickled when politicians give them real attention. So Murray, Chopp, Gregoire, and Inslee need to stop throwing Hail Marys to the press and instead go be superstars of a statewide barnstorming tour with one aim in mind: telling their version of the story, so voters are motivated to tax the wealthy and invest in our state.