Senator Zarelli is the ranking republican on the Washington State Senate Ways & Means Committee. In his latest newsletter, he outlines the colossal task the state legislature will face in January, and why the 60 days that the legislature will be in session are not enough time to drive a consensus.
Instead, he believes that when the legislature convenes, there should already be a plan in place that is roughly agreed to by both parties. From there, the details and finagling that occurs would tweak the numbers, but most likely not enough to make a significant difference.
This isn’t unheard of, and it’s a good way for a legislator to vote for something that no one likes but is expedient for everyone.
The makeup of the committee is what really struck me. He proposes a bi-partisan, committee where half the members are chosen by the respective caucus leaders, and the other half are chosen by the opposite party caucus leaders. For instance, the Democratic caucus leader would choose 2 democrats and 2 republicans, and the Republican caucus leader would choose 2 republicans and 2 democrats.
This would obviously favor the “middle-roaders” who are known for finding consensus between the parties.
Combined with his idea of a 3/4 being necessary to forward the proposal to the legislature, this could be something wonderful.
I wonder if the state democrats and republicans will agree to such a proposal. I would be interested in seeing how it would work. Or they could enter the session that will never end, and jeopardize whatever good will the people feel towards their state government.
In times past, governors and leaders of the chambers knew how to get things done if the need arises. Unfortunately, it seems our governor and our state house and senate leaders aren’t the same statesmen we’ve had in times past. Rather than trying to bring both sides together to address our looming fiscal disaster, they are using it as a political wedge to gain political favor.
Case in point is the WEA (state teacher’s union) active encouragement of strikes in prominent districts due to cuts to teacher’s salaries. They would rather fight for every last penny than understand that the economy in Washington State simply cannot support the spending they would propose.