1. I interviewed one more member of the "Seattle Six"—the six state reps who voted to give Seattle the finger by supporting an amendment to make "Seattle Area" property owners accountable for any cost overruns on the state's Viaduct tunnel project.
Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill) told me yesterday that the amendment "doesn't mean anything legally" and while "I wasn't happy about voting for it, if it makes some people feel better to poke Seattle in the eye, then whatever, we got the $2.4 billion for the tunnel, which is what we wanted all along." Like the other Seattle legislators who voted for it, Rep. Pedersen told me "the deal was: Unless this amendment was in the bill, the bill wasn't going to pass."
The F.U. Seattle amendment came at the insistence of Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43, Seattle).
2. The Senate released a quick cheat sheet to the press on the state budget deal late yesterday afternoon. Here's the AP report. I'm still waiting to get the details on GAU (General Assistance for the Unemployable) and the pending Medicaid cuts that affect the elderly (two issues that social services lobbyists have sounded the alarm about in the last week.)
I do know that another health program the liberal lobbyists were concerned about—cuts to the Basic Health Plan—are as severe as anticipated: A $255 million cut reducing enrollment to about 60,000 people down from 100,000. As for the GAU, I was told by Senate staff that the cuts would tack to the House proposal which left the $339 per month allowance largely intact.
3. We're still mulling over a winners and losers list for this year's legislative session. Labor, i.e. the teachers union (who lost on the education reform bill) and the Washington State Labor Council (who lost on the workers privacy bill), are definitely leading candidates for "Big Losers" this year.
In the meantime, we're happy to report that the PI.com awarded PubliCola "The Best Line of the Legislative Session."
4. King County Council Member Dow Constantine, who's running for K.C. Executive, held a packed fund raiser at the Crocodile in Belltown last night. The rock concert fund raiser featured performances by John Roderick and Carrie Akre and emceeing by Nirvana legend Krist Novoselic—and a speech by Constantine, who introduced himself to the rocker crowd by detailing his running battle with Maury Island strip mining "corporate bullies," Glacier Northwest. He neatly concluded the tale by letting everyone know that Glacier was now contributing to his rival Larry Phillips.
(I checked the finance reports this morning, and I didn't find Glacier on Phillips' list of contributors, but I did find their lobbyist, Martin Durkan, who gave $800.)
*Full disclosure: Sandeep Kaushik—a contributor here, is Constantine's spokesperson.
5. Speaking of the K.C. Executive's race, two of the other candidates—state Sen. Fred Jarrett (D-41, Mercer Island) and state Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Bellevue, Declaring Next Week)—have both been named to a small ad hoc committee in the state legislature that's set to hammer out a compromise on a bill in Olympia that could provide about $55 million for King County buses. (The shortfall for Metro is currently at about $100 million.)
Depending on how those negotiations go, Jarrett and Hunter (who already lost one battle here when he failed to get a utility tax to fund King County human services in the bill) could come away from the session with some bragging rights for the race. Or not.