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Jerry Cornfield | jcornfield@heraldnet.com
Published: Friday, March 2, 2012, 10:08 p.m.

Budget drama in state Senate incites strong reactions among Democratic lawmakers

Here are excerpts of statements issued by Democratic lawmakers as the political drama unfolded Friday. Republican lawmakers planned to put out statements when all the votes had been taken.

Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina:
“Today I stood with a bipartisan group of legislators to support an operating budget and a series of government reforms that will put our state on a strong fiscal footing.

“Since before this legislative session began, the message from my constituents has been loud and clear. Another budget that is unsustainable, relies upon accounting gimmicks and sets our state up for a perennial deficit is simply unacceptable.

“Unfortunately, with one week left in the regular session, it became clear that a true commitment to a sustainable budget and wholesale government reform had failed to emerge in the Legislature.

“My commitment to my constituents and to sound policy will always override my commitment to the party hierarchy. I am proud of the work we have done today on behalf of the citizens of Washington. It is my hope that today's actions will show the public that the will within the Legislature to budget sustainably does indeed exist.”

House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle:
“The Senate Republicans have exercised the worst abuse of power I have ever witnessed in the legislature. It says something about them that the minute they gained power, they abused it.

“They immediately moved to run over the minority on the floor by denying them the right to even see the budget bill before asking them to vote on it.

“They immediately turned their backs on the rights of the people by dismissing all calls for public testimony. Yes, the party that regularly decries the lack of transparency in the legislature cut the public out of the process completely."

Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch:
“My votes today and tonight were not partisan votes, they are votes for a responsible budget without accounting tricks or gimmicks.

“I have read the proposed budget as amended. I don't agree with everything in it, but it is a point to start negotiations with the House. There are many problems with the House budget. This action places a conservative budget proposal on the table."

Comments from three Roadkill Caucus members:

Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond:
“I'm truly disappointed. Our caucus is about reform of government through efficiency and transparency, not going behind the backs of our fellow members. I'm certainly not the most polite member, in dealing with my colleagues in the Senate, but I have always been a believer in honesty and fair play. Today's calculated and partisan move could not be further from my beliefs. Tom and Kastama took a good thing in Roadkill, and blew it apart.”

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens:
"I'm disappointed with the decision of Sens. Kastama and Tom to side with the minority party to put forth a budget that did not have the opportunity to be heard in committee, commented on by the public or even read by the very members of the Senate who were asked to vote on the bill.

“Until Friday afternoon, myself and members of the moderate Democrats were working in good faith with leadership in the Senate, House of Representatives and Republicans to advance several pieces of legislation that would have advanced vital reforms to state government.

“This move is the antithesis of transparency, respect and fairness – values which members of the moderate Democratic caucus hold dear."

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island:
"We worked on a bipartisan effort in good faith, and all this is going to do is force us into a special session, at significant cost to taxpayers, for a result that won't be any different than what we would have had.

“I've served here for some time, but the lack of respect today for the process and for their colleagues shocks me. There are bills that died on the calendar because of this, important bills that would have helped a lot of people in communities across our state. Now all that hard work by good people is wasted."

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