The state Senate majority caucus congratulated itself Tuesday for surviving a year and vowed to pursue legislation that did not pass last session, including changes to K-12 education and workers compensation.
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus was born a year ago when Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom, of Medina, and Tim Sheldon, of Potlatch, announced they’d caucus with Republicans, giving the GOP control of the chamber.
Tom and other leaders said their caucus, during the session that starts Jan. 13, will take up measures such as a bill that would allow school districts to lay off employees based on job performance, instead of seniority.
The caucus also wants to resume efforts to change the state workers compensation system. Last session the caucus pushed legislation that would let workers settle compensation claims for a lump-sum amount rather than pursuing a lifetime disability pension or other benefits – an idea strongly opposed by labor.
When asked about meeting a state Supreme Court mandate to increase funding for education, Tom, the Senate majority leader, said during a news conference it’s all about prioritizing spending within existing resources. “We should never have a conversation that we need new revenue for education,” he said.
Caucus leaders would not speculate on the prospect of completing a transportation tax package before the session starts. The GOP-led caucus has been negotiating with Democrats, who control the House and governor’s office, for months.