By Evan Smith
Democratic 1st District State Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe says that a takeover of the State Senate by a coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats could hinder efforts to reform education and provide the needed money to comply with a court order to provide full support for basic education.
Results of the November election show that Democrats hold 26 seats in the Senate to 23 for Republicans, but two Democrats have joined with Republicans in a coalition that would have a 25-24 majority, with Democrat Rod Tom of Medina as majority leader and Democrat Tim Sheldon of Mason County as president pro tem.
The coalition has proposed dividing committee control between Democrats and Republicans, with McAuliffe losing the education committee chairmanship to a Republican.
“If Republicans were to control the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee, I fear there would be a direct threat to our progress on fulfilling the court ordered duty under the McCleary lawsuit to fully fund basic education,” McAuliffe said last week. “Just last session, the Republicans proposed a budget that made $74 million in education cuts and countless cuts to programs that help middle class families, public safety, and our most vulnerable citizens.”
McAuliffe said that, while coalition members talk about bipartisanship, they aren’t consulting with Democratic leaders.
McAuliffe sent these comments last week:
“Republicans use words like bipartisanship and collaboration, but their actions tell a very different story. They did not consult the Democratic Party or work in a bipartisan fashion. They gave us a ‘take it or leave it’ situation by seizing control of committees that have a direct impact on the budget, education, health care, and labor.
“This was not collaboration. This was a takeover.
“The voters in the November sent a message to Olympia indicating their support of a Democratic governor, senate, and house, including the 1st Legislative District, where 55 percent of the voters re-elected me to continue our fight to fund basic education.
“Now is the time to focus on funding our existing education reform efforts. In 2009 we redefined basic education. We know the programs that we need to fund to assure a high quality education for every student. We must fulfill this promise.
“I am concerned that a takeover rather than true cooperation could bring the Legislature to a halt at a time when we must move forward for the children and families of Washington.”
McAuliffe won re-election in November in the 1st Legislative District, which includes most of Mountlake Terrace, all of Brier and Bothell, part of Kirkland, unincorporated areas of King County between Bothell and Kirkland, and unincorporated areas of Snohomish County north and east of Bothell.
Evan Smith can be reached at email@example.com.