A note to readers: After a brief holiday slumber, Fizz is back! Thanks for reading, as always.
1. At a time when Democrats are fretting about the Republican takeover of the state senate, state Rep. Ross Hunter, who heads the house finance committee, points out on his blog that the state has passed bipartisan budgets before.
Hunter writes: "The politics in the state Senate will be interesting, though I don’t think they change the reality of budget votes in any significant way. The mix of votes in the Senate makes it difficult to pass a budget there with 25 Democratic votes, requiring the same kind of bi-partisan budget vote we’ve negotiated in the past few years."
As we pointed out in our year-end Jolt, despite alarmist concerns among Democratic Party members, the state legislature has always had to pass bipartisan budgets—in fact, in the middle of a supposed Republican coup this past March, the legislature ended up passing senate the very budget (with minor changes) proposed by Sen. Ed Murray (D-43) in the first place.
2. In tandem with the "fiscal cliff," the latest Elway Poll shows voter confidence plummeting over the last month, with voter optimism at its third-lowest level in two decades. According to the poll, twice as many voters said things were "looking worse" in the next year than said things were "looking better." Democrats were more likely to be optimistic about the future than Republicans.
3. In response to today's last-minute deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff"—a looming list of tax increases and spending hikes that would have resulted if Congress failed to reach an agreement to reach a deal on the debt ceiling—newly elected Washington state Congresswoman Suzan DelBene had this to say:
“Today’s deal saves over 98 percent of Americans from seeing their income taxes go up, extends tax credits for working families and unemployment benefits for millions of people looking for work. It provides greater economic certainty for families and businesses and will help our economy grow. It also is a first step towards getting our overall fiscal house in order...
“But there is still much work to do. I still firmly believe the only way we will build a foundation for long-term economic growth is by taking a balanced approach to our budget that includes comprehensive tax reform and reigning in our spending to reduce our deficit.
Today's deal extends the Bush-era tax cuts for everyone making less than $450,000 a year. It does not, however, eliminate the need for the Obama administration to renegotiate the debt limit, which comes up again in Congress in February.