-Sen. Karen Keiser
As the state inches closer to a Republican shutdown that would shutter state doors, suspend school funding, close parks at the height of vacation season and freeze aid to businesses across the state, newspaper editorial boards are starting to call on Senate Republicans to quit rolling the dice with the welfare of families and businesses across our state.
In an editorial on June 11, the Seattle Times said policy differences are “no reason to play chicken with a partial shutdown of state government” and pointedly called out Senate Republicans:
“The Republican-dominated Senate Majority Coalition needs to set aside the ‘mutual consent’ principal-empowerment bill and a cap on non-education spending. It is too late for the contentious politics of those proposals to distract from budget-writing.”
In an editorial on June 12, The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin called out Senate Republicans to do the job they were elected to do — pass a budget — instead of choosing to “avoid deliberating and making decisions, preferring to let voters do their jobs.”
The Union-Bulletin said the:
“latest pass-the-buck moment came Sunday when the Republican-(with-two-Democrats)-controlled Senate approved three proposals asking voters to make major policy changes. One of the Senate proposals would give public school principals authority to reject teachers assigned to their buildings. Another would to place limits on the rate of growth for state spending except for education. And the last would approve overhauling how the state settles workers’ compensation claims. None of these proposals seems particularly prudent.”
Finally, in an editorial on June 7, the Olympian observed that “good government results when both parties negotiate in good faith and are willing to compromise for the greater good. As of Thursday, only one party appeared to be doing so.”
The editorial didn’t hedge when it came to identifying which party was responsible for the gridlock:
“State House Democrats offered an olive branch to Senate Republicans this week, hoping to break the deadlock in budget negotiations before the end of the special session next Tuesday. The Republicans snapped the branch in half, apparently rejecting it without serious consideration.”
In a closing plea, the Olympian wrote: “We urge Senate Republicans to govern responsibly.”
No one knows exactly what a Republican shutdown would look like, because the only time the state ever went without a budget was way back in 1951 and only for a few days until the Legislature recognized the consequences and quickly passed a new budget.
Interestingly enough, since that time, the closest the state came to shutting down was in 2001, when – surprise, surprise – Republicans held enough seats in the House to force a 49-49 tie and lock up the Legislature until scant days before the fiscal year expired.
A Republican shutdown would not only bring our state to a halt, it would demolish our state’s strong bond rating and escalate interest payments on future bonds. It’s conceivable that interest rates could become so high as to be unaffordable.
How sad that the self-proclaimed party of fiscal responsibility has in fact devolved into the party of shutdowns.