Isn't It Weird That ...

A couple of weird things about the senate budget and districts.

By Erica C. Barnett and Josh Feit April 10, 2013

IIW That

1. Isn't It Weird That ... the state senate Democrats keep boasting that by staying at the table with the Republicans, who control the senate, they managed to get some Democratic priorities—such as Medicaid exapnsion money— included in the senate budget proposal? 

It is true that the proposed senate budget, which liberal Seattle Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-34, Vashon Island) and Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-24, Hoquiam) worked on with the GOP leaders, includes $303 million in Obamacare money from federal Medicaid expansion.

But that doesn't seem like much of a win.

Earlier this session, we got a look at a pure Republican budget when the house Republicans released their plan. And right there on the summary page (pg. 57) of expenditures, they book $729 million for a combo of the hospital safety net surcharge and ... Medicaid expansion, which puts the Medicaid money at about the same level that's in the senate budget. 

2. File this one under: Is it Weird That? 

Is it weird that ... while state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill) voted against the Majority Coalition Caucus budget on the senate floor (he was one of 18 "No' votes"), he didn't join the "Do Not Pass" contingent of votes in committee? He didn't provide one of the necessary 12 "Do Pass" votes to send the budget from the committee to the floor; but he voted, with three other Democrats "Without Recommendation" rather than specifying his opposition.

The straight-up "Do Not Pass" votes in committee were Sens. Steve Conway (D-29, Tacoma), Bob Hasegawa (D-11, Beacon Hill), and Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36, Ballard).

We asked Murray about the wishy-washy sounding "Without Recommendation" on a budget that he's condemned for slashing $113 million from disabled services and $183 million from aid to children.

Here's what he told us:

When a bill gets referred out of a committee by the chair during executive session, its passage is subject to receiving a majority of signatures. There is a green sheet (which is a yes vote) and a pink sheet (which is a no vote). ... I signed the pink sheet for the operating budget (which is the minority report).

Some senators who signed the pink sheet specified that their recommendation was "do not pass," which is procedural commentary. As the leader of the caucus that successfully preserved immigrant services (which was added back in committee) expanded Medicaid, funded family planning services and ratified collective bargaining contracts in an otherwise unacceptable budget, I decided not to add that procedural commentary to my no vote. To portray this as anything less than a vote against the budget is inaccurate.

3. Isn't it weird that ... The proposed district elections map, which carves the city up into seven council districts (two of the city's nine council members would still be elected at large under the proposal) appears to carve up several dense neighborhoods, lumping them in with single-family areas, while keeping mostly single-family North Seattle neighborhoods intact? 

For example: The proposed map would dilute the political influence of dense downtown and Lower Queen Anne by lumping them in with more heavily single-family Magnolia and Upper Queen Anne. Meanwhile, instead of creating a "density district" by joining Capitol Hill and downtown, Capitol Hill is linked up with Montlake, Madrona, and Madison Park. The map also splits Fremont in two at Aurora and divides it from its logical district partner, Wallingford, despite the fact that Wallingford is divided from the rest of its district by I-5. 

Finally, the two Northeast Seattle districts are solidly single-family (with the exception of the University district)—a configuration that, again, dilutes the power of dense, pro-urbanist parts of the city by mating them with single-family areas where old-Seattle neighborhood activists (like Aurora Avenue Merchants Association head Faye Garneau, who has contributed $41,000 so far, in donations and loans, to the districts campaign) reign supreme.

Show Comments