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New Low in Legislating

April 04, 2011 J

When the House Democrats in Olympia finally released their 2011-2013 budget this afternoon, it represented a new high in low legislative practices. Like the puzzles you used to do as a kid, how many errors can you find in this picture? Here’s my count:

1) The budget is being introduced 85 days into a 105 day session. The one absolute responsibility of state government, and the one requiring the most debate and deliberation, they put off dealing with it until the waning days of session.
2) Frank Chopp announced the Monday unveiling of their budget on Friday, waiving the 5 day public notice for public meetings.
3) Using a title-only bill for the public meeting. Those wishing to testify at the public meeting will have to wait until just a few hours before the meeting for the budget to be released in order to find out what is actually in it.
4) As House budget chairman Ross Hunter (D-Medina) admitted at the AWB Lobby Lunch last Thursday, the apparent strategy is to release it on a Monday, and vote on it by the end of the week, allowing for the smallest amount of review possible.
5) Despite control of the House Senate and Governor’s office, the Democrats still can’t write a budget that even their own members can agree on. You know there’s trouble when they have to rush through legislation past members of their own party.

Of course, once the budget was released, the list grew. In order to cut the $5.3 billion shortfall, we could see some of the favorite “tricks”, like raiding fee-related accounts, securitizing future tax revenues or adding a “25th month” of revenues.
The Democrats in Olympia are like an old car with a broken transmission stuck in “Drive”, they seem to be innately unable to grasp how to write a budget that doesn’t increase spending by 8%. When revenues are flat or, heaven forbid, declining, they procrastinate or kick the can further down the road, anything to avoid the unpleasantness of living within our means. Today we find out just how serious the Democrats are about dealing with economic reality.

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