OLYMPIA - After years of one-party rule in Washington state government, Democrat and Republican senators announced earlier this week that they have formed a Majority Coalition Caucus to lead the Senate during the 2013 legislative session.
Twenty-five state senators have committed themselves to the new majority group, including Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, who will chair the state's capital budget committee.
"Senators who serve on the capital budget committee have typically been very cooperative and bipartisan, and I expect that tradition to continue in the 2013 session," Honeyford said.
"As far as the Majority Coalition goes, it was clear to me that our citizens were tired of business-as-usual, partisan politics and lawmakers needed to find some common ground on which to make a stand."
At a news conference held in the formal state reception room of the Capitol building in Olympia, coalition members announced their adherence to a set of principles that will guide the work of the new caucus, including:
- promoting job growth and a vibrant economy;
- creating a sustainable budget and living within the state's means;
- providing a world-class education system through reforms and enhancements;
- governing collaboratively to protect the most vulnerable while prioritizing the needs of middle-class Washingtonians; and
- setting priorities for state government and holding it accountable.
"I want the people of the 15th District to understand that we are not like the other Washington," Honeyford said, referring to the nation's capital.
He said, "Here in Washington state, when our citizens call out for reform and sustainable budgeting, we come together despite political differences and find solutions that not only work but are agreeable."
The Majority Coalition Caucus has agreed that when the legislature convenes next month it will form six committees with Democratic chairs, six with Republican chairs and three with co-chairs. None of the committees will have more than a one-vote margin between Republicans and Democrats.
The 2013 legislative session begins on Monday, Jan. 14.