This is not why we elected them

June 7, 2013 

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.

Voters can only conclude that Senate Republicans are not negotiating in good faith. Like their kindred spirits in Washington, D.C. — the tea party U.S. House Republicans — our state senators appear to have drawn a line in the sand on any new revenue.

If the Senate wants reforms to programs such as workers’ compensation in exchange for closing tax loopholes, that’s a worthy negotiating point and should have been the focus of their response.

But are Republicans willing to shut down state government, which would happen without a budget deal by July 1? Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater, suggested that might be the goal of some senators.

At least one Republican senator — Bruce Dammier — acknowledged the Democrats for taking the first step toward a compromise. Perhaps he can persuade his colleagues to engage in serious negotiations over the weekend.

It’s also possible that both sides have resigned themselves to a second overtime session. Viewed in that light, the Democrats’ offer and the Republicans’ dismissal might be seen as nothing more than political posturing for the bigger fight ahead.

Still, is this any way to run a state government? Isn’t the art of compromise the heart of the American political system? Why are state politicians taking us to our own fiscal cliff?

We elect state legislators for one primary purpose: to pass a budget. It’s a failure of governing that they are incapable of fulfilling that duty after nearly six months.

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.

We urge Senate Republicans to govern responsibly.

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