Following letter provided by Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor:
Until late yesterday we were on track to finish our work on time. We were within inches of a final budget deal to stop cutting education and keep our core safety net in place. I was particularly proud of the bi-partisan work on higher education. Building on months of work all across the state, a large group of Senators and Representatives, Republican and Democrat, had nearly finished moving to the Governor a large package of bills reforming our management of our universities and colleges.
However, Friday night the direction radically changed. A handful of Senate Democrats joined all 22 Republicans in a parliamentary maneuver that gave the Republicans an effective majority for the evening. They used their majority to pass a budget bill that had been made public shortly before they called for a vote. After ten hours of parliamentary maneuvers and heated floor debates, the Senate approved the Republican budget along with a handful of other bills.
Interesting as it was to parliamentary lawyers, the effect was to turn our agenda upside down.
Right now, I do not know whether we can complete on time this coming Thursday per our constitutional limit of 60 days, or whether this political maneuvering will force us into a thirty day Special Session. Whichever way it turns out, we have several very important decisions hanging in the balance. Those include fully funding education. The late-night Senate bill does some real damage.
On higher ed I’m working with our bi-partisan team of legislators, students, faculty and school leaders to map out a game plan that puts us back on track. Our state’s entire economic future depends on our higher ed system. We need to enable every possible student to get the degree or certificate she or he needs to get a better job or start a new career.
I’ll keep you posted. And for those of you who are keen Legislature watchers, keep those e-mails and phone calls coming. It is really gratifying to see how many of our 26th District citizens closely track individual bills, amendments, and budget details. I welcome your comments and advice.
It is an honor to serve in our legislature at this critical time in our state’s history.
Very best wishes,