OLYMPIA The recent general election has changed the balance of power in state government — Democrats have taken complete control.
Hold on, say Republican state Sen. Judy Warnick of Moses Lake, and Reps. Bruce Chandler of Granger and David Taylor of Moxee.
The change is one seat, and the Republicans are not completely devoid of power.
The balance changed after Republican Sen. Dino Rossi gave up his Senate seat to pursue higher political ambitions and Democrat Manka Dhingra defeated Republican Jinyoung Lee in a special election.
The Democrats control the senate by one seat.
They control the House by two seats, and they have the governor’s mansion with Jay Inslee.
As this possibility was coming up this fall, some Washingtonians thought the Democrats would get after approval of the $4.3 billion capital budget right away.
“I haven’t heard a thing,” Taylor said, noting its not a simple matter.
Either the governor or the Speaker of the House would have to call for a special legislative session.
And that would be senseless if there were not enough votes to win.
When Republicans had control, they held up the capital budget. They said they would bring it to a floor vote only after Democrats agreed to a bill that would undo the Supreme Court’s Hirst water decision of a year ago.
Democrats can now bring the capital budget to the floor. However, they would need some Republican votes to be able to pass it, Chandler said.
Democrats, with no help from Republicans, could pass a capital budget of about $1 billion.
The state has the funds to support that.
But for the state to sell bonds to finance the other $3.3 billion, a 60 percent supermajority “yes” vote is required in both chambers.
Unified Republicans can thwart that.
“They’re going to have to work with us, just like we had to work with them,” Warnick said. “Our caucus has taken a strong stand, and we are going to maintain it.”
Chandler doesn’t believe Democrats will bring the capital budget to the floor; they wouldn’t want to face losing.
Warnick is expecting a flurry of tax talk and activity at the first session of the new Legislature. She said that’s what Democrats do.
That wouldn’t be difficult, Taylor said. Only a simple majority vote is needed to raise taxes and fees.
Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, indicated in one of his first statements after the election, that spending and taxing will rise.
“Democrats will work to ensure all kids have access to high-quality early learning, public schools, and higher education opportunities,” he said. “We will make sure the Legislature is investing in strong communities – urban areas and rural communities in every corner of the state.”
Taylor is thankful for the constitution. Because of it, Democrats would be hard-pressed to get their coveted income tax
The state constitution allows for an income tax, but it does not allow for a progressive income tax.
“They’ve always talked about a progressive income tax because they want to soak the rich,” Taylor said.