By Jerry Cornfield
Today’s defeat of a $10 billion transportation funding package in the House on a 48-42 vote is not a good sign for the majority Democrats.
Party leaders reportedly counted on as many as four Republican votes and only got one. They’ll have to figure out what happened.
It’s also obvious the coalition of businesses, labor unions and environmentalists which has agitated for a transportation package for months couldn’t deliver much. That’s got to be disappointing given this group – which includes powerful business groups and labor unions — has met regularly in the governor’s conference room to coordinate their lobbying.
But then again, it looked pretty bad in 2005 when legislators rejected an $8.5 billion package on a 53-45 vote. Eight Republicans voted for the plan, but 18 Democrats opposed it.
Former Rep. Al O’Brien was one of the ‘no’ votes. He said he did so at the request of the party leadership. “We wanted to see how many votes we would get from the Republicans. We were looking for 18. We got eight,” he told me then.
It all turned around 24 hours later and the package with its 9.5-cent gas tax hike passed on a 53-45 margin.
Today, Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, voted against the bill for the same reason as O’Brien did.
Tomorrow we’ll find out if it brings about a similar turnaround.