No winner or loser today, though the Washington Education Association (the teachers' union) avoided its second big loss of the session (the first being the teacher evaluation bill) when a bill that would require 8,700 teachers statewide to get their health insurance through a new state program—rather than through the existing system where the union can bargain district by district at the local level for benefits—was put on hold this afternoon. The postponement (the bill was on today's schedule) gives the WEA more time to find a compromise they can live with.
"We don't know why it didn't come up," WEA spokesman Rich Wood says, "but that's fine with us."
However, we do have a quote of the day.
According to state senate Republican caucus chair, Sen. Linda Evans Parlette (R-12, Wenatchee) there's not going to be a budget deal until the senate Democrats make it through the five stages of grief after last week's GOP budget coup.
"I'm not sure if they're in denial right now, but they definitely haven't gotten to acceptance yet."
The famous pop psychology list goes like this: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
We'd say the Democrats are actually in bargaining mode right now; I've heard Democratic state senate ways and means chair Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Seattle) is floating budget proposals.
Murray isn't talking, but judging from Parlette (and Democratic sources), the bargaining chip is the $330 million one-day delay in the state payment to local school districts. (The budget trick doesn't subtract any funding—even the teachers' union is for it—but Republicans like Parlette, who's on the ways and means committee and is the ranking Republican on the capital budget committee, says the "gimmick is not acceptable. We won't have a deal until we have a sustainable budget."
Gov. Chris Gregoire, who's pushing the caucuses to get over Friday night's coup and get a budget done, addressed the payment delay issue at a press conference today.
"I'm a bit confused by it," she said of the GOP anger over the issue. "The senate Republicans were for it [they supported it in last year's budget]. Let me be clear what it amounts to—one day, so the idea that this is some catastrophic event where we're turning our backs on our schools...it's not as if the payment won't be made. It will be made 24 hours later than it otherwise would be made. But today [the Republicans] are opposed to it. Those are the cards I'm dealt, and I'm going to have to deal with."