Minority Republicans force budget to floor of Wash. Senate

Mar 4, 2012
Originally published on March 2, 2012 12:00 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. – There was high drama on the floor of the Washington state Senate last Friday. Three Democrats broke ranks to join minority Republicans. It was a coup of sorts. This newly formed “philosophical majority” took control of the Senate and forced four bills to the floor -– including an alternate budget-balancing proposal.

Senate Republican leader Mike Hewitt said the GOP “unlocked the gridlock” over the budget. Senator Rodney Tom was one of the Democratic defectors.

“We have been very clear that we needed a sustainable budget from January," he said. "We’ve been very clear about the reforms and the majority party has blockaded that.”

The budget Senator Tom backs would make deeper cuts instead of delaying payments to school districts -– a Democratic move he and other critics call a “gimmick.”

Democrats condemned the effort to force a quick vote on the Republican alternative budget. An angry Senator Tracey Eide said she hadn’t even seen the proposal.

“Now this is extremely rude. I don’t know what’s in this bill," she said. "And I don’t know when it was put on the bar. I don’t know what the hell I’m voting for.”

Eide then used a parliamentary move to force a full reading of the 235-page budget bill. She later relented.

The Washington legislature is scheduled to adjourn next Thursday. To finish on time House and Senate negotiators will have to reconcile the differences between their budget plans.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

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