If you want to know why the Washington State legislature can’t seem to pass a budget, it’s because Republicans have forgotten how to do math.
Oh, I’m not talking about budget math; Republicans have never been very good at that. I’m talking about electoral math. The Democrats control the state house. The Democrats control the governor’s mansion (and have for over 30 years). The Democrats control both US senate seats, six of ten US house seats, and seven of eight statewide executive offices. The Democratic nominee has won Washington State in seven straight presidential elections.
Washington is a Democratic state.
Yet weirdly, Republicans believe their three-seat majority in the state senate somehow gives them an electoral mandate to unilaterally impose their will on the rest of the state:
Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said Democrats are wasting taxpayers’ dollars by keeping lawmakers in Olympia longer.
“There’s just one thing standing in the way of a deal — the House Democrats’ unreasonable insistence on raising taxes solely for the sake of raising taxes,” Benton said in an email.
Right. It’s the Democrats who are standing in the way of a deal. Gimme a fucking break.
Look, the Republicans control the state senate, so they deserve something. Can’t pass a budget without them. No doubt about that. But compromise is a two-way street, and the problem is that today’s Republican Party is ideologically incapable of compromise on many key issues. For example, taxes. A majority of Republicans will never vote to approve something called a “tax.” For any reason. Ever. So they demand that the Democrats fold entirely on that.
Then there is transit. The Republicans largely have the transportation funding proposal they want—lots of tasty pork for their home districts. But they’re ideologically opposed to funding light rail, even when it’s not their money. And so they refuse to give Sound Transit the $15 billion in local taxing authority it needs to go to voters with a package that builds enough rail in each of the subareas to give it a chance of passing. Instead, they think they have an electoral mandate to insist on an ST3-crippling $11 billion in authority—not enough to get to either Tacoma or Everett, and not enough to get to both West Seattle and Ballard. Because Republicans can’t do the electoral math.
But the bigger danger would be if the Democrats can’t do the electoral math either.
The Democrats control two-thirds of state government. And if they want to hold on to the two-thirds they have (and have a hope of retaking the senate) then they can’t disillusion the Democratic base by rewarding the three-seat senate Republican majority for their uncompromising obstruction. Politically, capitulation is neither a responsible nor viable option.
The Republicans control only one-third of government. Give them a third of what they want. If Republicans want anymore than that, force them to make a case for it at the polls.