Morning Fizz

Feeling the Heat

By Josh Feit March 15, 2012


Caffeinated News & Gossip. Your daily Morning Fizz

1. Two weeks ago, three Democrats gave the Republicans a budget victory. Now it looks like three Republicans (and a repentant Democrat) are giving the Democrats a victory: Senate Republicans in Olympia are going to roll out a budget proposal this morning that moves toward the Democratic position by making less or no cuts to education. [pullquote]Some Republicans were feeling the heat and urged their leadership to give in and fund education.[/pullquote]

Sources inside the budget talks in Olympia tell Fizz that the Republicans, particularly moderate Sens. Joe Fain (R-47, Auburn), Andy Hill (R-45, Redmond), and Steve Litzow (R-41 Mercer Island) along with conservative Democrat Jim Kastama (D-25, Puyallup), were feeling the heat and urged Republican leadership to give in. (During last week's coup, the three Puget Sound Republicans and Kastama voted for Republican ways and means chief Sen. Joe Zarelli's (R-18, Ridgefield) budget, which cut education by $73 million vs. the Democrats' zero cuts.)

Kastama is now the target of a campaign for more education funding by UW students (more than 1,500 "likes") while Fain appeared to backtrack on his Facebook page just two days after the GOP coup, writing on March 4: "I am hopeful [budget negotiations] will restore some of the programs that appear to be on the chopping block."

The senate Republicans were in total control just two weeks ago when they commandeered the senate and passed their harsher budget; in addition to cutting education, the GOP budget also cut the Disability Lifeline for the severely disabled and made deeper cuts to social services such as eliminating $202 million from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

But the senate Republicans' grave public misstep on education funding along with agreement among the senate and house Democrats and house Republicans, who all proposed ending some corporate loopholes such as the tax exemption for big banks on mortgage loans—dramatically weakened the senate Republicans' hand in this week's budget talks where both education funding and closing loopholes were put back on the table.

The Republicans' proposal to cut education also embarrassed their party's gubernatorial candidate, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, who is running on a platform to increase education funding—which is exactly what the Democratic budget, initially offered by the senate Democrats and budget writer Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Seattle), does.

2. Progressive Darcy Burner, who's running in the crowded field to replace US Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA, 1)—Inslee is running for governor and resigned from his house seat last weekend—sent out a fundraising mailer with a glaring omission.[pullquote]"I’ve lived and worked and shopped in this district ever since I moved to the Northwest 15 years ago . . . it‘s where I  live - it‘s my home."—Darcy Burner, getting a little defensive.[/pullquote]

In a doth-protest-too-much appeal at the beginning of the letter, (bolding mine) Burner says:
The congressional redistricting process placed me in a new district. I live in the same place, right where I’ve always been. (After the fire destroyed our home 3 l/2 years ago, Mike and I re-built in the same place.) But, redistricting has placed us in the new lst Congressional District. I’ve lived and worked and shopped in this district ever since I moved to the Northwest 15 years ago . . . it‘s where I  live - it‘s my home.

Kinda. Burner's most recent job as executive director of ProgressiveCongress.org—a lefty group that acts as the field operation for the progressive caucus in the US Congress—had her working as an insider in DC for the past two years.

Burner faced criticism in her 2008 run against US Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA, 8  ) for the out-of-state-support she got as a Netroots star. (For the record, while Burner did benefit from ActBlue dollars—ActBlue is an online fundraising site for liberals—Burner actually had more in-state dollars than Reichert).

3. Speaking of the race in the 1st Congressional District: Already endorsed by liberal state Sens. Murray and Karen Keiser (D-33, Des Moines) and state senate veteran Sen. Margarita Prentice (D-11, Renton), moderate state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens) was endorsed by lefty state Sens. Nick Harper (D-38, Everett) and state Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-40, Orcas Island) yesterday in his fight to emerge from the pack of competing liberal Democrats, including Burner.

The fresh endorsements from his Democratic senate colleagues comes at the right time for Hobbs, a member of the Roadkill caucus, a group of conservative Democrats in the state senate who recently got a bad name among Democratic voters when a few of them (though not Hobbs) crossed party lines to support the Republican budget.

In his statement, Harper, for example, tries to set the record straight:
Steve is a person of conviction who always does what he believes is right. I can proudly state that Steve has been a strong ally in the state senate, ... creating sustainable budgets that protect children and seniors...

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