Whoever leads the Legislature’s budget committees next year will have to eliminate a $4.5 billion deficit at a time when federal aid is drying up and voters have all but ruled out the use of tax increases. That means lots of tough cuts.
What glutton for punishment would want this job?
If House Ways and Means Chairwoman Kelli Linville is retired by voters, there’s a host of plausible successors among the chairmen of the budget subcommittees: people like Tacoma Rep. Jeannie Darneille. Finance Committee Chairman Ross Hunter of Medina declined to say if he wants to move to budget chairman. Ways and Means vice-chair Pat Sullivan of Covington is interested in moving up if his bid for majority leader fails, he said. But lawmakers noted Linville still has a chance to return.
The positioning among Democrats on the Senate side could set off some interesting dominoes.
Sen. Ed Murray of Seattle has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Sen. Margarita Prentice of Renton. Murray declined to tell me if he wants the job, and Prentice declined to say if she’s trying to keep it. A move by Murray, a 15-year veteran of the Legislature, would open up the influential position of Senate Democratic Caucus chairman.
Another senator in the mix is Craig Pridemore of Vancouver. He said he wants to be Ways and Means chairman but would defer to long-serving legislators Prentice and Murray if either runs for the position.