Satire died briefly last night during an extraordinary debate in the State Senate over a proposal by Senator Sharon Nelson to restore funding for the Readiness to Learn program, which provides wrap-around services to needy children. The $3 million in necessary funds were to be taken from a fund for prizes for county fairs.
Though it’s not entirely clear why any self-respecting anti-government legislator would want the government’s dirty money getting in their wholesome fairs, the coup caucus rose passionately to defend a budget that prioritized county fair prizes over poor children.
Let us repeat: this was not just a quiet vote to maintain discipline — it was a whole-hearted embrace of the importance of fairs before public education.
And that’s the vote that carried the day.
The whole debate is available for viewing here, but here are some highlights.
Senator Schoesler explained that fairs are about prizes, and strongly urged that the $3 million prize fund be protected due to its possible negative impact on pie booths. Then he shut his pie hole, but he couldn’t stop smirking.
Senator Kilmer replied passionately: “You want a prize for your kids? Educate them.”
Senator Harper pointed out what the Readiness to Learn program funds: food, school supplies, drug & alcohol treatment.
Then Senator Honeyford hit back with a strong counterpoint, threatening that fairs could go broke without this money. And a county without a fair is of course unthinkable. (Unlike a county without funding for a homeless shelter. That’s just tough love.)
Senator Haugen replied forcefully, declaring to wide agreement that “there’s noone who cares more for fairs than I.” However, even she wanted to put people before fairs. (And trust us, the woman loves her some fairs.)
The back and forth continued, as Senator Ericksen suggested these were the wrong priorities and it was not right to take money from “one area that helps children greatly, which is fairs, and put it into this other program that some people think is very important.”
Finally, Senator Swecker won the debate with this crucial point: “It’s important to realize that some people benefit more from fairs than they do from our public education system.”
And so satire briefly died, as the Senate voted to put Flossie first and keep on bedecking her with the blue ribbons she deserves.