State Legislators have been saying for years that they’re “up all night” fretting over the budget. Last night, they finally put in the time to make that ring true, with a debate that lasted until 2 in the morning.
It all started when Senator Ed Murray released a budget proposal which cut… hardly anything. Even worse: it undid a 15% cut to grants for TANF recipients — among the poorest families in the state. That’s right: Murray’s budget turned back the clock on a budget cut.
And there’s more. Murray’s budget also preserved HEN, a program which aids people facing homelessness who need help to meet their most basic needs.
In response to this unthinkable exercise in human decency (which of course didn’t have the necessary 25 votes in the Washington State Senate), Senators Rodney Tom (large head – Clyde Hill), Jim Kastama (delusionally ambitious – Puyallup), and Tim Sheldon (lost cause – Potlach) joined with the Zarelli/Benton crew to launch a mutiny against Lisa Brown. Together, they moved forward with a much bloodier & tastier budget proposal that cut these programs and pretty much everything else.
But why? Why cut back so much when there was a proposal to cut far less without even raising taxes? Because just like boots are made for walking, claws are made for slashing, and canines are made for biting, budgets are made for cutting. It’s called a “supplemental budget” because it’s supposed to supplement the old budget with even more cuts. There used to be broad bipartisan agreement on this score.
Senate Democrats reacted furiously as this coup was launched, blaming Zarelli and the rump roadkillers for breaking faith with the process. But the real story is a little different.
In our opinion, it was actually Senators Murray & Brown who broke faith was their own recent history of compromise upon compromise. Restoring cuts to TANF recipients is in fact a radical change of direction from recent budgets. And if the Senate Democratic leadership was going to support funds poor people, they no longer deserved the throne. That’s simply not what the Senate is all about.
And that’s why Sheldon, Kastama and Tom split — because budgets are about cutting, not rebuilding.
At least that’s what we assume, because throughout hours of debate on the Senate floor provoked by his principled abandonment of principle Rodney Tom said not a word on any budget item, proposed amendment, bogus “reform”, or anything at all. His 1-word zombified vocabulary: “no” to disabled children, “no” to higher education, “no” to childcare, “no,” “no”, and more “no”. (In fairness, he did say “yes” to skipping a pension payment for retirement workers, because… why not find another way to screw them over?)
All in all, it was a impressive show of standing strong to represent his Clyde Hill homeland against the interests of the huddled masses.
And now we can’t wait to see what rises up next.
We just hope it’s not the people of the 48th district.