I left town before the weekend and expected to return to the news that legislators had reached a budget compromise and gone home. Nope.
Another legislative day means another series of twists and turns in the political game being played inside the capitol. Here are just a few of the latest signs it’s time for them to to break the stalemate:
1. Lawmakers have been in Olympia so long, even members of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus are turning on each other. Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, filed a complaint last week against fellow Republican state Sen. Ann Rivers of La Center, after he claimed she cursed at him and he felt “physically threatened.” What a crybaby.
Benton deserves to be called out for whining, especially since The Columbian’s Stevie Mathieu talked to former GOP state Sen. Cheryl Pflug Monday, and she revealed Benton yelled the ‘”F” word at her numerous times last year after she voted to support same-sex marriage. “He definitely has a temper, and he dishes it out and then doesn’t want to receive it,” Pflug is quoted as saying. She called Benton’s latest actions “the height of hypocrisy.” Gotta love former lawmakers and their freedom to tell it like it is.
At the beginning of the session, an Olympia observer warned me the Washington Legislature is just like high school. As the year progresses, personalities clash. Gossip gets spread. Feelings are hurt. Yep. He’s right. Except maybe the part about rushing out when the bell rings. This year, Washington’s teenagers have done a much better job than their adult counterparts in the Legislature of finishing their finals and going home.
2. On Monday, The Seattle Times’ Andrew Garber reported the governor’s office has directed agencies to notify state workers of potential layoffs by July 1. Gov. Jay Inslee is following the letter of the law, but the mixed signals confuse people who are trying to do their jobs and plan out their summers. It’s hard to make spending decisions when your employer can’t even set a budget. I worry about the mini-ripple effect this will have in Olympia, where state workers live full-time and contribute to the local economy.
3. Gov. Jay Inslee called a press conference Monday. TVW streamed the availability, during which Inslee said budget negotiators had reached a “breakthrough” and a deal was “imminent,” but he didn’t reveal much more. ‘A’ for effort in communicating with the public, Gov. Inslee, but we need more specifics at these media events. State legislators have been saying for days they’re close to a final budget. So far, it’s all talk. The lesson: Non-news news conferences are the pits.
This blog post, originally published at 7:43 a.m. on June 25, 2013, was corrected at 11:00 a.m. State Sen. Don Benton’s name was misspelled in the caption under his photo.