Senate Republicans joined by maverick Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon announced a new majority coalition today to run the Senate in January, calling their plan a bipartisan effort to share power in a cooperative way the public is demanding. Tom will serve as majority leader of the new Majority Coalition Caucus, while Sheldon will take over as president pro tem, presiding in the absence of Lt. Gov. Brad Owen.
The news came as perhaps a small surprise to Democrats, who had offered to share power under leadership of a 26-Democrat majority but knew an announcement was coming. Democrats’ leader Ed Murray called it a “take-it-or-leave-it” approach and it was unclear if the 24 remaining Democrats would agree to provide chairmen for the six committees that the new coalition offered.
Tom and Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler of Ritzville said they agree with Gov.-elect Jay inslee, a Democrat, that new tax revenue is not needed to answer a Supreme Court ruling on the funding of schools. But the Washington Education Association quickly denounced the Senate power shift, calling it “misguided” and harmful to K-12 schools in a news release.