The Senate GOP power coup? Tim Eyman made them do it

The secret story behind the state senate power-sharing coup – according to Eyman.
Who decided to rearrange the legislative majorities?

Who decided to rearrange the legislative majorities? Josh Feit

Now it can be told: The reason two fiscally conservative Democratic senators crossed over to strike a power-sharing, committee-splitting accord with minority Republicans was … Initiative 1185, the latest anti-tax ballot measure from Tim “Please, Strike Down my Initiative So I Can Get Paid to Pass a New One” Eyman. At least, that’s what Tim Eyman says.

Yesterday Eyman and his I-1185 co-sponsors Jack and Mike Fagan declared in a press release that

Today's power-sharing announcement in the state senate happened because of the voters' overwhelming passage of I-1185 and the 2 tax advisory votes. The ripple effects from those public votes played a key role in today's important development in how the next legislature will move forward.

And here we thought it might have something to do with deep differences over state taxes and budgeting, the character of the districts represented by breakaway Dems (or DINOs — Democrats in Name Only, in the view of some colleagues) Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, Sheldon’s longtime role as a caucus gadly and crossover vote, his fellow Dems’ banishing him from all but one committee last session, or the power seats he and Tom will now occupy as, respectively, president pro tempore and majority leader.

No word yet from Tom or Sheldon as to whether I-1185 did indeed prompt them to bust up the Democratic majority, but we’ll pass it on if we get it. Together with updates on how Eyman’s measures caused the anti-government protests in Egypt, the collapse of Italy’s provisional government and future earthquakes in Chile and Sumatra.

Eric Scigliano's reporting on social and environmental issues for The Weekly (later Seattle Weekly) won Livingston, Kennedy, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and other honors. He has also written for Harper's, New Scientist, and many other publications. One of his books, Michelangelo's Mountain, was a finalist for the Washington Book Award. His other books include Puget Sound; Love, War, and Circuses (aka Seeing the Elephant); and, with Curtis E. Ebbesmeyer, Flotsametrics. Scigliano also works as a science writer at Washington Sea Grant, a marine science and environmental program based at the University of Washington. He can be reached at eric.scigliano@crosscut.com.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 10:43 a.m. Inappropriate

Dear Eric,

If the situation was reversed and a couple of republicans joined the democrats to create a new majority, for gay marriage for example, would you describe that situation as a democratic power coup or as a bipartisan coalition?

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 11 a.m. Inappropriate

Gay marriage is kind of a silly example, though, because people crossed "lines" all the time to vote on individual issues or bills.

The effect of what Tom and Sheldon have done, though, is to take power from one party and completely shift it to the other. Trying to put a veneer of bipartisanship over this is silly--when the GOP has control of the Rules Committee and the Budget, the GOP has control, period, and if this is a "bipartisan" coalition, then the marriage equality vote of last year was, too, thanks to Republicans like Maureen Walsh.

Ryan

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 11:25 a.m. Inappropriate

I think cranky asks a good question. "Reaching across the aisle" is good when Republicans do it, to achieve some goal dear to the Democrats and the media but not so good when Democrats do it. Then it is not described as "reaching across the aisle", it is portrayed as a tactical betrayal.

kieth

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 12:53 p.m. Inappropriate

Eric, the fact is that the initiative passed in almost all legislative districts in the state ... even those that voted overwhelmingly in favor of Democratic candidates, like the 48th. Only Seattle's 36th, 34th, 43rd, 37th, and 46th ended up opposed. Mr. Eyman's self-congratulations aside, the fact remains that the voters expressed support for a measure that purports to LIMIT the legislature's ability to raise funds ... while returning Democratic majorities to both chambers. There are moderates on both sides of the aisle who see the conundrum presented by election results like this ... we would do well to support their attempts to do something, anything, different ... in an attempt to turn public support away from Mr. Eyman and in favor of, say, more education funding. We're not there yet.

Deb Eddy

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 12:58 p.m. Inappropriate

In the "every vote counts in an election" department, there is a very simple explanation for why this is happening. Republican senator Don Benton retained his seat in the 17th Legislative district by a margin of 78 votes out of something over 54,000 votes cast. If Benton had been unseated, new adventure would never have unfolded.

Posted Wed, Dec 12, 5:53 a.m. Inappropriate

Gee, in the every monopoly needs to be busted up Department, there could be another very simple explanation for why this is happening.

Certain Legislators looked at who got elected by the party machine to the Governor's mansion, the return of Frank Chopp and the potential election of Ed Murray and they realized there was a very real possiblity for a Super Storm of Stupidity to vortex in Olympia. Rather than sit through another non-productive "Dumb and Dumber" Special Sauce session, they decided to take action and push for change.

Cameron

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 1:16 p.m. Inappropriate

Rodney Tom (12/10/2012): “The fact that 65 percent of citizens just voted to affirm a two-thirds vote standard for raising taxes also shows they are looking for a more responsible government – especially when it comes to spending."

Rodney Tom (11/15/2012): "Look at [Tim Eyman's initiative] 1185 [which requires a two-thirds majority to raise taxes]. It passed by 64 percent. On the advisory votes to tax big oil and big banks, people said, 'No, don’t do those things.'

[In advisory votes on the bank loophole repeal and taxing big oil, voters overwhelmingly disagreed with the legislature.—Editors]

"In order to make this thing work, we’re going to have to get the Republicans involved early."

"That’s the surprise. When people say don’t tax big bank and big oil but they pass 1185 by 64 percent, it’s clear they want to streamline government."

The leader of the senate said it, we just repeated it.

timeyman

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 1:19 p.m. Inappropriate

You miss alot when that particular sentence is taken out of context.

Here's what we wrote yesterday: Without I-1185's overwhelming victory and the 2 tax advisory votes rejecting the 2012 legislature's 2 tax increases, Olympia would be going down the path of business-as-usual with D's in charge of the House, Senate, and Governor's office. Those public votes on taxes showed that Washington's electorate may vote Democrat, they may vote Republican, but regardless of who controls Olympia, the citizens want them kept on a very short leash.

From the statewide results on I-1185, everyone knows that almost 2/3 of voters want 2/3 for taxes. But what's truly remarkable is looking at the district-by-district breakdown (we've also included the state politicians in each district):

You can see the results here: http://www.VotersWantMoreChoices.com/1185results.pdf

I-1185 overwhelmingly passed in 44 of 49 legislative districts (only the 5 in Seattle rejected it). It passed in every county. And it's the 5th time voters approved its policies, each victory by a wider margin than the last.

Today's power-sharing announcement in the state senate happened because of the voters' overwhelming passage of I-1185 and the 2 tax advisory votes. The ripple effects from those public votes played a key role in today's important development in how the next legislature will move forward.

When Olympia politicians think about sidestepping I-1185's protections (2/3 for tax increases, tax advisory votes, specific legislative approval of fee increases, no delegating fee-raising to state agencies), they need to spend some time considering what the people have consistently been telling them over the past 20 years. In both good times and bad, the voters have supported these important taxpayer protections. The debate should be over by now but with Olympia's insatiable appetite for higher taxes and unending arrogance, legislative efforts to sidestep I-1185 will continue. But the more effort they put into sidestepping I-1185, the more support there will be for its successor (and we will likely tighten the belt a notch tighter next time).

Politicians need to remember they are elected to represent the people, not to rule over them.

-- END --

Is it really that far-fetched that the votes on I-1185 and the 2 tax advisory votes were a major factor in yesterday's announcement?

timeyman

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 2:01 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey, I saw your post about I-1185 losing all but five legislative districts in Seattle. Could you please post a link to where I can get the most detailed possible results for Seattle? I'm a numbers geek, and would be happiest if I could go all the way to the precinct level. But anything would be great.

Thanks in advance.

NotFan

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 2:06 p.m. Inappropriate

We don't have anything but King County Elections might:
http://info.kingcounty.gov/about/contact/default.aspx

timeyman

Posted Thu, Dec 13, 11:06 a.m. Inappropriate

http://your2.kingcounty.gov/elections/2012nov-general/results/default.aspx
"E-canvass results"

louploup

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 1:21 p.m. Inappropriate

We have a David and Goliath narrative in the making.  Very possibly, the SNL version.  David as played by the bipartisan coalition, is standing tall now, but by the end of session, odds are, the Goliath coalition will be wiping its chin after eating David's lunch.

Goliath is a coalition of the governor, the house majority, the senate D's, and the organizations that helped elect the Goliath politicians.  It may also include the state supreme court.  The Goliaths perceive a need to address the pent-up and increasingly frustrated fiscal and policy demands of a broad array of constituencies.  

The David coalition wants to put the brakes on spending growth unless it can be sustained by current revenue streams.  But it faces daunting challenges in addition to the Goliath coalition.  The David coalition includes at least a couple of prima donnas who can, sometimes for whim,  derail an entire train yard.   And, according to the coalition's leaders, it is attempting to forge a new governing strategy.  New usually means heading into unknown territory and the Davids are unlikely to have a political GPS system for guidance.   Old Olympia hands like Dean Foster and Marty Brown probably come as close as the Capitol city has to offer of the kind of people who can help them navigate this course.

The Davids are going to face lots of snarky attacks from frustrated partisans and members of the Goliath coalition.  It might help inspire political civility and comity if the legitimate press chose not to follow suit ... at least before the Davids screw up.   Given the situation, that's apt to happen soon enough.

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 8:28 p.m. Inappropriate

Well put. I'm not sure it will play out this way, but you gave me something to think about ... thank you!

Deb Eddy

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 9:21 p.m. Inappropriate

Yes, Eric, get back to environmental, uh, journalism.

BlueLight

Posted Wed, Dec 12, 4:59 a.m. Inappropriate

WA State NEEDS TO CUT PAYROLL BLOATED WAGE SPENDING!!!

CAP - Top State, County, City & Muni Employee Wage @ $120,000 (Limit 1)

CUT - State, County, City & Muni Employee Wages to below $120,000 or 35 Percent

FREEZE – State, County, City and Muni Employee Wages and Hiring

Benefits - For Gov Employee ONLY!

Pension - At same age and Dollar amount as Social Security - Period

END - Union Dues Payroll Withholding

Washington State, WA State Cities, Counties have BLOATED Payroll WAGE Spending PROBLEMS not under Taxation Problems!

jcs

Posted Wed, Dec 12, 5:05 a.m. Inappropriate

.
.
Right To Work - Education

Right To Work - Cities

Right To Work - Counties

Right To Work - State

Right To Work - Business

RIGHT TO WORK - AMERICA

STOP: Payroll withholding of Union Dues!

Provide Worker CHOICE:
Pay Union Dues - or - Do Not Pay Union Dues
.
.

jcs

Posted Wed, Dec 12, 2:48 p.m. Inappropriate

I appreciate what Tim Eyman is/has been doing, its an uphill battle and he has my support, not financially though. Few more initiatives and I may break even.

Thanks Tim, and Merry Christmas

salmonjim

Posted Thu, Dec 13, 5:39 p.m. Inappropriate

I'll second that. Count me as a Seattle Democrat who helped pass I-1185 in King County.

NotFan

Posted Fri, Dec 14, 9:39 p.m. Inappropriate

One conservative Democrat and one very screwy conservative Democrat joining two dozen Republicans does not a bipartisan coalition make.

sarah90

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