Archive for Democrats

Governor Inslee proposes capital gains tax to fill budget gap

By | December 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

Gov. Jay Inslee says it’s time to “buck up” and invest in the state of Washington. He’s recommending a new capital gains tax to help close a $2 billion dollar gap in the next two-year budget.

“It is time to reinvest in our state and this budget does that,” Gov. Inslee said.

The Governor released his 2015-17 budget proposal Thursday. The $39 billion plan is a combination of cuts to current programs and new revenue. The focus is on four key areas: stronger schools, healthier kids, cleaner air, and a fairer tax system.

“There is one simple fact: we cannot balance this budget and educate our children on cuts alone.”

In addition to the charge on carbon polluters unveiled earlier in the week, Gov. Inslee proposes a seven percent capital gains tax on money made from the sale of stocks and bonds above $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for joint filers. It would begin in 2016 and is estimated to raise $800 million dollars in the first biennium.

“This is a tax on fewer than one percent of Washingtonians,” the Governor explained.  “For those folks who have retirement accounts, stock in those accounts when they sell that stock, there will be zero capital gains on that.”

The Governor says Washington’s capital gains tax would be less than similar taxes in Idaho, Oregon and California.  Also exempt is money earned from the sale of homes, farms, and forestry.

“This is not intended to show any lack of respect for those who would pay under this proposal. We honor success in Washington. In fact, we treasure it, but we always have to push for fairness.” The Governor later explained why he believes a capital gains tax is a better option over a sales tax increase. “It would be unfair to working families in this tough economy, where you have such incredible income inequality, to put more tax burden on working families. I believe, in this circumstance where we’ve had such wealth creation in this state… That giving a beginning teacher, or a person who’s making $500,000 selling stocks and bonds, at this point we outta ask that wealthier person to step up to the plate.”

Among the other ideas on the list of new revenues, Gov. Inslee wants five tax breaks repealed, the state cigarette tax increased by 50 cents a pack, a new tax on e-cigarettes and vapor products, and a tax on bottled water.

Those new revenues add up to $1.4 billion dollars.

Given the size of the budget shortfall and the State Supreme Court mandate on McCleary, the Governor says statewide cuts are also needed. His budget proposal includes $211 million in General Fund spending cuts. Another $212 million was found by shifting General Fund costs to other fund sources and maximizing federal funds.

“The fact of the matter is we have made reductions of $12 billion dollars since the recession started. We have already slashed mental health way past the bone. We’re in the arteries.”  Governor Inslee said as a result the courts have held the state in contempt. “The point is this recession has put us $1 billion dollars in the hole, and we have slashed to the bone and now we’re looking into the cartilage to the tune of about $400 million dollars.”

The largest chunk of Gov. Inslee’s budget is dedicated to schools. He wants to spend $18.2 billion in order to meet McCleary. That would include money for smaller K-3 classes and full-day kindergarten for all students across the state.

Social and Health Services would get $6.4 billion. Washington colleges and universities would be allocated $3.4 billion, but in-state undergraduate tuition would be frozen.

When asked whether he changed his tune from the 2012 campaign when then-candidate Inslee vowed not to raise taxes: “The combination of the legislature not closing these loopholes… and increasing demands in education and mental health, we simply have not been able to generate the revenues necessary to provide vital services to Washingtonians. I have hoped to avoid this route. I have tried to avoid this route, but we now have an obligation to our children. They oughta have a first class education. It is a duty of ours and I intend to fulfill it.”

Immediately following the Governor’s news conference, the Senate Republican’s chief budget writer issued a statement. Sen. Andy Hill (R – Redmond) said, “Investing in student achievement and providing essential services should not depend on risky tax schemes that threaten our economy. Educating our children, caring for those in need and supporting our local economy demands thoughtful, bipartisan budget leadership. Tax increases should be the last resort, not the first response.”

You can see more of the details of the Governor’s 2015-17 budget proposal here.

You can also hear more from Governor Inslee’s budget director, David Schumacher.  He is the  guest on this week’s “Inside Olympia.”

Governor Jay Inslee to Release Entire Budget Proposal Thursday

By | December 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Governor Jay Inslee will release the entirety of his proposed 2015–17 biennial budget on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

TVW will carry the event live, both on TV and on our website.

Here’s the link to watch it live from your computer.

House Democrats Announce Committee Leadership

By | December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

After reorganizing House committees for the next biennium, Democrats announced Wednesday who will be leading those committees.

The list is as follows:

·       Agriculture and Natural Resources: Rep. Brian Blake (Aberdeen), chair; Rep. Kris Lytton (Anacortes), vice-chair

·       Appropriations: Rep. Ross Hunter (Medina), chair; Rep. Timm Ormsby (Spokane), vice-chair

·       Business and Financial Services: Rep. Steve Kirby (Tacoma), chair; Rep. Cindy Ryu (Shoreline), vice-chair

·       Capital Budget: Rep. Hans Dunshee (Snohomish), chair; Rep. Derek Stanford (Bothell), vice-chair

·       Commerce and Gaming: Rep. Chris Hurst (Enumclaw), chair; Rep. Sharon Wylie (Vancouver), vice-chair

·       Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs: Rep. Sherry Appleton(Poulsbo), chair; Rep. June Robinson (Everett), vice-chair

·       Early Learning and Human Services: Rep. Ruth Kagi (Lake Forest Park), chair; Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (Seattle), vice-chair

·       Education: Rep. Sharon Santos (Seattle), chair; Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (Everett), vice-chair; Rep. Chris Reykdal (Tumwater), vice-chair

·       Environment: Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (Burien), chair; Rep. Strom Peterson (Edmonds), vice-chair

·       Finance: Rep. Reuven Carlyle (Seattle), chair; Rep. Steve Tharinger (Dungeness), vice-chair

·       General Government and Information Technology: Rep. Zack Hudgins (Tukwila), chair; Rep. Tana Senn (Mercer Island), vice-chair

·       Health Care and Wellness: Rep. Eileen Cody (West Seattle), chair; Rep. Marcus Riccelli (Spokane), vice-chair

·       Higher Education: Rep. Drew Hansen (Bainbridge Island), chair; Rep. Gerry Pollet (Seattle), vice-chair

·       Judiciary: Rep. Laurie Jinkins (Tacoma), chair; Rep. Christine Kilduff (University Place), vice-chair

·       Labor: Rep. Mike Sells (Everett), chair; Rep. Mia Gregerson (SeaTac), vice-chair

·       Local Government: Rep. Dean Takko (Longview), chair; Rep. Mia Gregerson (SeaTac), vice-chair

·       Public Safety: Rep. Roger Goodman (Kirkland), chair; Rep. Tina Orwall (Des Moines), vice-chair

·       State Government: Rep. Sam Hunt (Olympia), chair; Rep. Steve Bergquist (Renton), vice-chair

·       Technology and Economic Development: Rep. Jeff Morris (Mount Vernon), chair; Rep. Gael Tarleton (Ballard), vice-chair

·       Transportation: Rep. Judy Clibborn (Mercer Island), chair; Rep. Jessyn Farrell (Seattle), vice-chair; Rep. Jake Fey (Tacoma), vice-chair; Rep. Luis Moscoso (Mountlake Terrace), vice-chair

You can find the entire list of House Democratic committee assignments on their website.

 

Categories: Democrats, WA House

House Democratic Leaders Reorganize Committees

By | December 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Democrats have a new structure for House committees for the 2015 legislative session. Some committees have been canceled, others added, and some of the remaining will have new names and roles.

According to a document given to House members, there are now 21 committees instead of 23. The committees canceled include the appropriations subcommittees on education and the one on health and human services, along with the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.

There is a new committee being formed to deal specifically with issues related to marijuana and gambling. It’s called the Commerce and Gaming Committee. The description on the document: “The House Commerce & Gaming Committee considers issues relating to commerce in alcohol, tobacco and cannabis and issues relating to the regulation and oversight of gaming, including tribal compacts.”

Also new next session, a State Government Committee. It will take over the ethics, campaign finance and other state agency issues often heard by the Government Operations and Elections Committee.

There is a new name and focus for the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Information Technology. It’s no longer considered a subcommittee and will address issues of state government, LEAN management, and audits.

The new Labor Committee has a shorter name. The Workforce Development part was dropped from that committee and moved to the Higher Education Committee.

To read the House committee descriptions: 2015-16 committee issue areas (2)

Legislative Year in Review

By | March 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

On this special one-hour edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights from the 2014 session — from opening day to Sine Die. The show includes debate over issues such as the Dream Act, minimum wage, gun control, abortion insurance bill, death penalty, mental health, teacher evaluations, taxing e-cigarettes and the supplemental budget. Plus, a quick wrap-up of several of the bills that passed this year. Watch the show below:

Live in Olympia: TVW’s Sine Die show starts at 8 a.m. Thursday

By | March 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington’s legislative leaders will adjourn the 2014 session Thursday, unless a special session extends the deadline. But before they go back to their districts TVW will air back-to-back live interviews with more than 20 lawmakers starting at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Anita Kissée reporting live from the capitol rotunda for TVW's special edition mid-session show Feb. 18.

Anita Kissée, host of The Impact, will sit down with Gov. Jay Inslee, House Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan and House Republican leader Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Other guests include Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island. The lawmakers will talk about a range of issues from education to the capital budget to the environment.

Plus, Austin Jenkins, host of TVW’s “Inside Olympia” and reporter for the Public Radio Northwest News Network, and Brian Rosenthal, a state government reporter for The Seattle Times, will stop by to talk about some highlights from the past 60 days and what to expect when the election process begins.

Coverage will be here on the blog, and you can watch live on TVW or via webcast.

Democratic lawmakers concerned over oil freight information, fees for housing

By | March 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

As the Legislature approaches the final four days of session, Democratic lawmakers told reporters Monday they’re concerned about parts of their platform, namely disclosure of oil transportation information and the continuation of a real estate fee that raises money to house the homeless.

Lawmakers disagree over two stalled bills that address the issue of oil transportation reporting.

House Bill 2437 would require refineries to provide information to the Department of Energy about how many tank vessels and rail cars transfer or deliver oil to a refinery each week, the volume and type of oil that arrived at the facility, and the route taken by oil arriving at the facility by rail car. The bill passed out of the Democratically-controlled House, but was not heard in committee in the Senate.

A competing bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. Senate Bill 6524 would set up a study on transporting oil through over rail through the state. It passed out of committee but has not yet come up for a floor vote in the Senate.

On Monday, Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, criticized Ericksen’s bill as being “just studies.” The oil freight trains “run right through Spokane, where there are schools right next to the rail,” McCoy said. He said that freight also runs through all the communities between Seattle and Vancouver B.C.  ”So we need to make sure that they’re safe.”

Democrats also were concerned over the battle over Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge. The fee is a $40 surcharge on certain real estate transactions in county auditor’s offices. The fee, which is scheduled to sunset over time, is applied to building shelters and other housing.

Republican Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, introduced a bill that would extend the $40 fee for another year, which was being heard in the Ways and Means committee on Monday morning. But Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, told reporters the fee should be permanent.

“Homelessness has dropped 29 percent in the state since we’ve enacted that fee,” she said. Nelson said that making the fee permanent would mean that homelessness would not be a wedge issue.

“Where they’re in the middle every year, as we have to make a decision if we’re going to have that fee,” she said. “I believe it shouldn’t have a sunset clause.”

Nelson said a proposed tax on e-cigarettes and ending four tax breaks to help raise money for education are still in play. However, a proposal to ban certain flame retardants from children’s products, such as furniture, has  stalled this year, she said.

Categories: Democrats

TVW live mid-session show starts at 8 a.m. Tuesday

By | February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

TVW will be live starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday with interviews from the Capitol rotunda for a special mid-session edition of The Impact with host Anita Kissée. Tuesday marks a key deadline in the 2014 legislative session as lawmakers rush to meet a 5 p.m. cutoff to move bills out of the chamber of origin.

Tune in to watch interviews with Gov. Jay Inslee, Senate leaders Rodney Tom and Christine Rolfes and House leaders Pat Sullivan and Dan Kristiansen. Plus, transportation leaders will stop by to talk about the latest progress on a transportation package.

The show will also include interviews with Sen. Ann Rivers and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, and Rep. Laurie Jinkins and Rep. Monica Stonier of the House Democratic Caucus.

We’ll also cover a range of issues, including the death penalty with Rep. Jay Rodne and Rep. Reuven Carlyle, education with Rep. Ross Hunter and Rep. Bruce Chandler, labor with Rep. Matt Manweller and Rep. Mike Sells, and higher education with Sen. Barbara Bailey and Rep. Larry Seaquist.

Watch live on TVW or via webcast.

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Min wage proposal, college incentives and grad requirements

By | January 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Thursday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have details about a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2017. House Democrats introduced the minimum wage proposal at a press conference Thursday.

We also have highlights from a public hearing on a bill proposed by Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner that would offer colleges incentive funding for increasing the number of degrees awarded to students. Plus, discussion in a House committee over a 24-credit high school graduation requirement.

Watch the show below:

Categories: Democrats, Education

Democrats introduce bill to reduce classroom size to 17 students by 2017

By | January 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington is one of the worst states when it comes to crowded classrooms, ranking 47th in the nation, according to the organization Class Size Counts for Washington Kids.

During a press conference, Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, and Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, announced House Bill 2589 that would prioritize making K-12 class sizes smaller and lay out an implementation plan. The goal of the bill is to reduce classroom size to 17 students by the 2017 school year.

The democratic lawmakers pose with advocates for smaller classrooms.

The lawmakers said the changes would cost money, but didn’t specify a funding source.

Parents and advocates with the Class Size Counts group discussed the benefits of smaller student-to-teacher ratios. They say it reduces the achievement gap between low-income and high-income communities, lowers teacher burnout and improves student performance.

Parent Katherine Jones said that if Washington doesn’t make changes soon she would consider moving her kids to another state.

“It’s just not acceptable. When you’re one of 29 students, you cannot get the attention that you need,” Jones said.

Live at noon on TVW: Inslee’s State of the State Address, and Republican reaction

By | January 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee will deliver the 2014 State of the State Address at noon today before a joint session of the House and Senate. TVW will air the governor’s remarks live.

Gov. Jay Inslee (TVW file photo)

Immediately following the governor’s speech, TVW will be live with the Republican perspective delivered by Sen. Randi Becker (R- Eatonville). Senators from the Majority Coalition Caucus and Republicans in the House of Representatives also will discuss their top priorities for the upcoming 60-day legislative session at a press conference.

There’s also plenty of legislative coverage online today.

Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina) and Sen. Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) will discuss the Early Start Act of 2014, which aims to increase the number of early learning programs in the state. TVW will tape the press conference and air it later.

You can see what TVW is covering by checking out the schedule online.

Live in Olympia: TVW’s Opening Session show starts at 10 a.m. Monday

By | January 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington’s legislative leaders are jumping into a new session Monday and TVW will air exclusive interviews with many lawmakers before they take their seats. You can watch it on TV or our live stream on the web.

Anita Kissée, host of The Impact, will be reporting live from the Capitol from 10 a.m. to noon. Opening ceremonies begin at noon, and we’ll be back with more live interviews from 12:45 to 1:15 p.m.

We’ll start the show off at 10 a.m. with an interview with Gov. Jay Inslee, which will replay at 11:45 a.m. and 1:20 p.m.

Other guests include Senators Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, Sharon Nelson, D- Maury Island, Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, and Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. We’ll also be interviewing Representatives Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Pat Sullivan, D- Covington, Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, and Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda.

State capital reporter for The News Tribune Jordan Schrader and AP correspondent Rachel La Corte will stop by the set to discuss the key issues they anticipate will be high on the legislative agenda.

Coverage will be here on the blog, and Legislative Review will air a rundown of the events at 6:30 p.m. on TVW. The show airs every night during the session, providing a 15-minute recap of the day’s legislative highlights.

Legislative leaders discuss upcoming session, question if supplemental budget is necessary

By | January 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

Legislative leaders from the four corners discussed the upcoming session at the AP Legislative Preview forum Thursday, with some suggesting that a supplemental operating budget may not be necessary this year.

The Legislature writes a biennial budget in odd-numbered years, and a supplemental budget in even-numbered years. In 2013, lawmakers adopted a $33.6 billion, two-year operating budget. During the recession, lawmakers had to make significant adjustments to supplemental budgets, but revenue is expected to stay flat or slightly increase in 2014.

“You could operate without a supplemental budget. There are sufficient funds,” said Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler. “We have to be very careful that we don’t create a bow wave that would go over our four-year balanced budget requirement.”

Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson and House Speaker Frank Chopp disagreed, saying there are investments that could be made this year in areas like K-12 education and mental health.

Legislative leaders at the AP forum

Chopp said Washington has one of the worst records in the nation for available psychiatric beds. As a result, mentally ill patients are being boarded in beds in the hallways of emergency rooms.

“That’s not right. We should do something about that,” said Chopp. “Luckily the investment we’re talking about would be fairly modest in the supplemental, but I think we need to look at that.”

Nelson said the Legislature should also see if there’s additional progress that can be made in funding K-12 education to meet McCleary requirements.

If the Legislature does adopt a supplemental budget, Schoesler said it must be “gimmick free.” He said he also wants to avoid making “random acts of kindness in K-12″ that he says won’t make a difference in the long-term.

“My concern every year when we go into supplemental budgets is that we don’t start adding to our expenditures,” said House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish.

The panel also discussed issues such as pension reform, climate change, workers’ compensation, medical marijuana and transportation. Watch the full video below.

Cutoff day highlights on ‘Legislative Review’

By | April 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

On Wednesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from a busy cutoff day — including a floor speech from House Republican Minority Leader Richard DeBolt in which he resigned his leadership post for health reasons, and heated debate on the Senate floor when Democrats attempted to revive an abortion insurance bill. Plus, floor debate over a flame retardant bill and a social networking measure.

 

Alcohol bills, Senate Democratic press conference on ‘Legislative Review’

By | April 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

On Monday’s “Legislative Review,” we have details from a floor debate in the House over three alcohol-related bills, including measures that would loosen restrictions for serving alcohol at day spas, dinner theaters and grocery stores. We also have highlights from a press conference in which Senate Democrats say they are willing to use the Ninth Order to bring the Washington Dream Act and Reproductive Parity Act to the floor for a vote. Plus, details from Friday night’s budget debate in the House.

Senate Democrats say they may use Ninth Order to force vote on two bills

By | April 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

Senate Democrats said they are willing to use a parliamentary tactic called the Ninth Order to force a vote on two bills on the Senate floor. Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray said he believes there are enough votes to pass the Washington Dream Act and an abortion insurance bill known as the Reproductive Parity Act.

“We have a majority of members who want these bills to pass, but the philosophical majority is not being allowed to bring these bills forward,” Murray said. He said “eventually we’re going to have to go to Ninth Order” if the Majority Coalition Caucus won’t move the bills.

The Washington Dream Act would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for state Need Grants to help pay for college. The Reproductive Parity Act would require all insurance companies in the state to provide coverage for abortions if they also cover maternity care. Both bills passed out of the House, but never received committee votes in the Senate.

Murray said by calling a press conference about the issue on Monday, he is hoping to “avoid the theater that sometimes happens around the Ninth Order.” Last year, Republicans and conservative Democrats used the Ninth Order to force a vote on GOP-backed budget.

Democrats would have to use the tactic before the end of the day Wednesday, which marks a key cutoff deadline.

“The votes are there,” Murray said. “There is no reason not to pass the legislation.”

Watch the press conference below:

House budget, Columbia River Crossing and capital budget on ‘Legislative Review’

By | April 11, 2013 | 0 Comments

On Wednesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have details on the budget proposal by House Democrats that pays for education by eliminating a number of tax breaks. We also have highlights from a joint press conference between Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood discussing the Columbia River Crossing, as well as a segment on public reaction to the House Capital budget.

Senate GOP: Offering proxy vote for Carrell the ‘professional thing to do’

By | March 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

Sen. Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood)

Leaders of the GOP-controlled Majority Coalition say they are hopeful Senate Democrats will extend a proxy vote in the place of ailing Sen. Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood) if he is unable to be in Olympia for a close vote as the legislative session winds down.

Carrell returned home last week after symptoms from a pre-leukemia blood condition became worse. He was diagnosed with MDS, or myelodysplastic syndrome, earlier this year and is currently a candidate for a bone marrow transplant.

Under Senate rules, it is allowed for somebody to vote for a member of the majority party who is sick or ill. Without Carrell, the Majority Coalition is one vote short of an actual majority.

On Wednesday, Sen. Linda Parlette (R-Wenatchee) said she was hopeful a member of the minority would step in if a vote was close.

“I’m not sure about that. It may depend on the issue. I just hope they will join us if it’s a close vote because I know that we would do the same. I think it has made us more mindful of the difference between having 24 people sitting there and 25 people sitting there. I just think that’s the professional thing to do and I honestly can’t believe anybody not doing that,” she said.

House Minority leader Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis) said he was asked on occasion to offer his vote to a member of the other party who was ill when the House was evenly split.

“It has been a good tradition,” he said.

Democratic Sen. Jim Hargrove has previously said he would serve as a proxy vote, according to KPLU.

Categories: Democrats, WA Senate

Sens. Rodney Tom, Ed Murray disagree on power-sharing agreement in Senate

By | January 10, 2013 | 0 Comments

Days away from the start of the 2013 legislative session, Senate leaders still disagree on how they will share power on committees.

Senate Republicans will control the chamber with the help of two breakaway Democrats, Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon. The coalition has proposed that each party chair six committees, and co-chair three committees.

Under the proposal, Republicans would chair the most powerful committees — including the budget, education and healthcare — while Democrats would get six lower-tier committees.

At the Associated Press Legislative Preview event today, Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray said his members have voted to reject the GOP offer and they don’t intend to name chairs to the committees that the Republicans have offered.

“Offering the smaller committees to Democrats isn’t bipartisan,” Murray said.

Tom, who is the leader of the coalition, said the group is offering Democrats an “unprecedented amount of power,” and they’re still waiting for a response.

“We’re not doing this for window dressing,” said Tom. “We’re approaching this so we can have a vibrant dialogue.”

Tom said the coalition approached committee chairmanship like a business and selected the best qualified person for the job. For example, he said Sen. Andy Hill, the Redmond Republican who has been tapped to lead the budget-writing committee, holds an MBA from Harvard and is a former Microsoft executive.

Murray said he hopes both sides can “negotiate a bipartisan way to govern” before the start of session on Monday.

“We can move forward regardless of some of the complications that exist,” Murray said “The thing to focus on is the end result.”

(more…)

Senate Democrats reject GOP power-sharing proposal, offer counterproposal

By | December 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

Senate Democrats on Monday rejected a power-sharing proposal offered by the Republican-led coalition, instead offering a counterproposal that would install a co-chair from each party on all committees.

Republicans dismissed the idea, saying that having co-chairs on all committees “would be a recipe for gridlock, particularly in areas like education and the operating budget.”

Senate Republicans announced earlier this month they plan to control the chamber with the help of two breakaway Democrats, Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon. The group, calling itself the Majority Coalition Caucus, will hold a 25 to 24 vote advantage.

The coalition asked Democrats to accept a power-sharing agreement that would give each party six committee chairs. Under the proposal, Republicans would chair the most powerful committees — including the budget, education and healthcare committees — while Democrats would get natural resources, agriculture, trade, financial institutions, higher education and environment.

Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray rejected that proposal, saying it’s clear the Senate is in a “virtual tie” and the committee structure should reflect that.

“We propose a structure of co-leadership and co-chairs of all committees. We would support Republicans and they would support us in a true bipartisan arrangement with true sharing of power and responsibilities,” Murray said in a statement.

Tom, who would serve as the coalition’s majority leader, and Senate Republican leader Mark Schoesler called on Democrats to cooperate.

“It is our hope that the current majority will cooperate with us to ensure a smooth handoff of leadership and allow the Senate to tackle the many pressing needs of our state from day one of the 2013 session,” Tom and Schoesler said in a joint statement.

Meanwhile, Murray and Tom exchanged letters about the upcoming session in which it is clear the two sides won’t cooperate before session. That means the GOP-led coalition will likely have to change the rules of the Senate if it wants to take control in January.