The 2015 legislative session wrapped up last week. Since then, Democrats have been scrambling to paint themselves—and their message—as winners of the session. Unfortunately for them, media outlets across the state and the pubic at large aren’t buying it. This Throw Back Thursday, Shift is setting the record straight on the real winners and losers of the legislative session.
Ladies and gentlemen, the winners of the 2015 legislative session:
- Taxpayers… for not having to pay new taxes.
Due to Senate Republicans’ insistence on responsibility and sustainability, the tax paying public can rest easy knowing the state budget contains no new taxes. Republicans won the tax battle and protected taxpayers from what would have been the largest tax increase in state history – if Democrats had gotten their way.
- GOP State Senator Andy Hill… for fighting for and writing a responsible budget.
Senator Hill is responsible for leading the fight against Democrats’ call for new taxes—a fight he took on even before the start of the 2015 legislative session. He is also responsible for writing, well, a responsible budget. As the Seattle Times put it, Hill “stuck to his message over months of budget negotiations — new taxes only as a last resort — he watched the Democrats’ revenue proposals melt away.”
- GOP State Senators John Braun and Barbara Bailey… for championing a nationally recognized college affordability bill.
When Senators Braun and Bailey rolled out the “College Affordability Program,” a plan that seeks to decrease the cost of college tuition at public universities, they were met with opposition from Democrats. Fortunately, that did not deter them. They fought against Democrats treating college tuition as a cash cow for their special interests agenda. In what amounts to a tax break for the middle class, Braun and Bailey successfully passed their bill—the first of its kind in the nation.
- GOP State Rep. Dan Kristiansen and the House Republican Caucus… for exposing the fact that House Democrats could not pass their tax hike proposals.
House Democrats—led by Speaker Frank Chopp—proposed historic tax increases when they introduced their budget proposal. The problem is that they refused to vote on those tax hikes. In turn, their refusal obstructed the budget negotiation process. After all, how could Senate Republicans negotiate with what is essentially a spending package, not a budget? Through the drama that unfolded, Rep. Kristiansen displayed strong leadership and held his fellow caucus members together on the firm stance that they would not give in to Democrats’ whims. Their resiliency exposed the truth: Rep. Chopp did not have the votes to pass the tax hike proposals out of the Democrat-controlled state House.
- GOP State Senator Curtis King and Democrat State Rep. Judy Clibborn… for staying at the negotiation table and never giving up on a transportation package.
House Democrat leaders responded to the threat of a government shutdown by putting the brakes on transportation package negotiations until a state budget deal is reached. It was a clear effort to obstruct a transportation package that did not fit their narrative. That frustrated both Sen. King and Rep. Clibborn for one simple reason: they had made great strides at the negotiation table and believed they where close to reaching an agreement on a much-needed transportation package. Luckily, King and Clibborn did not allow House Democrats’ effort to obstruct their negotiations to damage progress made on the transportation package. In the end, the state Legislature passed a bi-partisan transportation package.
Now for the losers of the 2015 legislative session:
- Jay Inslee… for not getting any of his tax increase proposals or extreme green, Tom Steyer-backed policies.
Jay Inslee struck out on all of his top priorities, including a new state income tax on capital gains (strike 1), a new cap-and-tax plan to raise energy prices (strike 2), and jamming through a fuel mandate (by executive order, not legislative vote) to raise the price of gasoline (strike 3). Making matters worse, Inslee appears to have so little respect among lawmakers that they have a nickname for him: “Gov. (Rodney) Dangerfield.” According to GOP state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, lawmakers sometimes jokingly refer to Inslee as “Gov. Dangerfield” because he is such a “non-factor in what is going on and his ideas don’t get a lot of respect.”
- Democrat State House Speaker Frank Chopp… for not being able to deliver his caucus to vote for the House budget.
Rep. Chopp and his fellow Democrat House leaders could not get 50 votes on the House budget. In other words, they could not convince enough members of their own party to go on record voting for historic tax hikes. So, they passed what amounted to a spending package instead. Inevitably, House Democrats knew that the final budget would not include the taxes they based their 2015 message on. Chopp’s refusal to even bring the proposed taxes to a vote unnecessarily prolonged the budget negotiation process.
- Democrat State Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson… for attempting to blow a $2 billion hole in the state budget.
Right when everyone thought the state Legislature would finally adjourn, Senate Democrats backtracked on a previous agreement and refused to vote for the suspension of the Washington Education Association’s (WEA) money grabbing initiative, I-1351. Their refusal threatened to blow a $2 billion hole in the state budget. Ironically, at the beginning of the legislative session, Senate Democrats chastised Senate Republicans for what they referred to as an “irresponsible” plan to deal with I-1351. Sen. Nelson warned that the idea of sending I-1351 back to voters puts the budget “essentially out of balance immediately.” Nelson quickly changed her tune. Far from categorizing it as a pressing problem that needs a solution, Nelson appeared perfectly willing to allow I-1351 to linger and unbalance the budget all to please the WEA. Thankfully, Nelson retreated from her position after less than a week. Rumor has it that her stunt could cost her job as minority leader.
4. Democrat unity…. because, at the end, they all turned on one another.
Everyone celebrated when news broke that legislators had, at long last, reached an agreement on a no new taxes budget. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats tainted the long awaited victory with a last minute, unexpected move. They decided to backtrack on a previous agreement and refused to vote on suspending the WEA’s I-1351. Essentially, Senate Democrats created a hostage situation, threatening to blow a $2 billion hole in the state budget if Republicans would not play along with their effort to appease the WEA. By doing so, Senate Democrats hung House Democrats—who already passed the suspension—out to dry. But, House Democrats are not the only ones who felt the sting of betrayal. Democrat Sen. Jim Hargrove didn’t play along with his caucus’ tactics. In fact, Hargrove delivered a floor speech in which he pointed out that “I-1351 was never on Senate Democrats’ priority sheet for negotiations.” For that, Sen. Nelson said of Hargrove during a press conference, “He was tired, he was worn out, he’s been here six months. It was not the best of moments on the floor for our ranking member.”
5. Democrat State Rep. Reuven Carlyle… for championing Jay Inslee’s capital gains income tax and cap-and-tax scheme.
Certainly, all Democrats are losers for attempting—and failing—to pass a slightly altered version of Jay Inslee’s state capital gains income tax. But, arguably no other legislator shouted for the illegal tax louder than Rep. Carlyle. The Democrat went to great lengths to champion the new income tax, partnering with far-left groups to pull ridiculous publicity stunts. In the end, all his efforts were for not. Senate Republicans ensured that Washington’s working families would not have the added burden of a capital gains income tax. Unfortunately for Carlyle, that’s not the only one of Inslee’s tax proposals he made a fool of himself promoting. Carlyle championed Inslee’s cap-and-tax scheme as “a super-exciting idea.” Carlyle—and his enthusiasm—was in the minority. Ultimately, Inslee could not even find enough Democrats willing to vote for his cap-and-tax scheme.
Judy Cibborn is a first rate legislator willing and able to do the heavy lifting for her caucus. She is truly worthy of accolades for her ability to work successfully across the political aisle.
Eastside Sanity says
#1: better take a look at the gas pump if you think there are no new taxs. Unbelievable!
Karl Great says
Just got my phone bill more taxes think of all the people that lost their jobs this was a loser for a lot of folks.