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Roadkill caucus splits over Senate blowup

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 2, 2012 at 9:26 pm with No Comments »
March 2, 2012 9:31 pm

It has the feel of a band breaking up.

The foursome of centrist Democrats who refer to themselves as the “Roadkill Caucus” divided on a procedural motion to bring a GOP-backed budget to the floor. Sens. Brian Hatfield and Steve Hobbs stuck with their majority party while Sens. Jim Kastama and Rodney Tom joined Republicans.

“Tom and Kastama took a good thing in Roadkill, and blew it apart,” Hatfield wrote in a statement.

The whole group had been demanding reforms in exchange for budget support, and Kastama, of Puyallup, complained today about the lack of progress on those demands. “There hasn’t been one of those reforms passed. Not one,” he said.

(Hatfield did see his personal priority pass: allowing more kinds of waste from pulp mills to be counted as renewable energy.)

Of their fellow moderate and conservative Democrats, who are also sometimes grouped in as Roadkill members, Sen. Tim Sheldon sided with the defectors, while Sens. Jim Hargrove, Mary Margaret Haugen and Paull Shin stayed with their party. Here are some statements from all sides:

Statement from Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens:

“The Roadkill caucus is a group of like-minded individuals, but we are still individuals. I’m disappointed with the decision of Sens. Kastama and Tom to side with the minority party to put forth a budget that did not have the opportunity to be heard in committee, commented on by the public or even read by the very members of the Senate who were asked to vote on the bill.

“Until Friday afternoon, myself and members of the moderate Democrats were working in good faith with leadership in the Senate, House of Representatives and Republicans to advance several pieces of legislation that would have advanced vital reforms to state government.

“This move is the antithesis of transparency, respect and fairness – values which members of the moderate Democratic caucus hold dear.

“The opportunity to achieve reforms still exists. Good legislation is still out there, but we must put aside our differences in order to advance it.”

Statement from Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond:

“I’m truly disappointed. Our caucus is about reform of government through efficiency and transparency, not going behind the backs of our fellow members.  I’m certainly not the most polite member, in dealing with my colleagues in the Senate, but I have always been a believer in honesty and fair play.  Today’s calculated and partisan move could not be further from my beliefs.  Tom and Kastama took a good thing in Roadkill, and blew it apart.”

Statement from Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds:

“I am a strong believer that differences and impasses can be addressed peacefully and that the best methods are through discussion and compromise. The actions taken by Senate Republicans and three Democrats are not in keeping with my beliefs.  I am saddened that our great legislative process has succumbed to partisan game playing at the expense of people’s lives and livelihoods.”

Statement from Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island:

“We worked on a bipartisan effort in good faith, and all this is going to do is force us into a special session, at significant cost to taxpayers, for a result that won’t be any different than what we would have had.

“I’ve served here for some time, but the lack of respect today for the process and for their colleagues shocks me. There are bills that died on the calendar because of this, important bills that would have helped a lot of people in communities across our state. Now all that hard work by good people is wasted.”

Sen. Tom issues statement regarding vote on parliamentary procedure

Senator Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, issued the following statement regarding his vote on a parliamentary procedure to pull the governor’s proposed operating budget to the Senate floor:

“Today I stood with a bipartisan group of legislators to support an operating budget and a series of government reforms that will put our state on a strong fiscal footing.

“Since before this legislative session began, the message from my constituents has been loud and clear. Another budget that is unsustainable, relies upon accounting gimmicks and sets our state up for a perennial deficit is simply unacceptable.

“If we ever want to get ahead of our budget crises, our state needs wholesale government reform and a budget that reflects our commitment to sustainable governing.

“This year, I introduced several reform proposals aimed at bending our state’s cost curve, including efforts to shore up our state’s pension system. I also made my support clear regarding proposals to lower our state debt limit and require that our state balance our budgets with long-term sustainability in mind. Each of these proposals represent critical tools in achieving a sustainable budget that will restore the public’s confidence in our state’s fiscal outlook.

“Unfortunately, with one week left in the regular session, it became clear that a true commitment to a sustainable budget and wholesale government reform had failed to emerge in the Legislature.

“My commitment to my constituents and to sound policy will always override my commitment to the party hierarchy. I am proud of the work we have done today on behalf of the citizens of Washington. It is my hope that today’s actions will show the public that the will within the Legislature to budget sustainably does indeed exist.”

Sheldon votes to pull fiscally responsible budget to Senate floor

OLYMPIA — Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, issued the following statement today regarding his vote on a parliamentary procedure to pull the governor’s proposed operating budget to the Senate floor:

“My votes today and tonight were not partisan votes, they are votes for a responsible budget without accounting tricks or gimmicks.

“As a businessman and a local government official, I see a clear and urgent need for a balanced budget.

“I have read the proposed budget as amended. I don’t agree with everything in it, but it is a point to start negotiations with the House. There are many problems with the House budget. This action places a conservative budget proposal on the table.

“I firmly believe we need less government spending, more fiscal responsibility and better prioritization of spending, with education first and support for our seniors.”

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