Saturday, April 23, 2005

What's that smell?

"My sense is that most in the caucus are extremely reluctant to walk in with a new majority and start passing new taxes."

Senator Craig Pridemore (D-Vancouver) following his election to the Senate last fall. Pridemore voted in favor of the operating budget with $500m in new taxes.

EFF: Gregoire recognizes success of Rossi budget

Below is a press release from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. Their remarks are sufficient enough that I need not add my own:


April 22, 2005 Contact:
Booker Stallworth, Communications Director
(360) 956-3482

Gregoire highlights state's nomination for award for no-new-taxes budget written by Sen. Dino Rossi

OLYMPIA—On April 20, Governor Christine Gregoire issued a press release highlighting the state being a finalist for Harvard’s “Innovation in Government Award.” Washington was nominated for the award because of its use of the priorities of government (POG) budget model in crafting a no-new-taxes budget in 2003. Then-Senator Dino Rossi used POG to write the 2003-05 budget, which he prioritized within available revenue despite facing more than a $2 billion budget deficit.

Gregoire’s release read in-part: “Washington’s pioneering budgeting method—which follows a process to prioritize state services within available resources—is among 18 government initiatives from across the nation to emerge as finalists out of an initial field of more than 1,000 applicants.”

The Governor went on to say that she “used the POG process to prepare the budget[she] proposed…,” even though her budget exceeds available revenue.

Abandoning POG, a majority of legislators are now set to approve a record $26 billion 2005-07 budget that relies on nearly $500 million in tax increases, raids of dedicated accounts and other one-time budget gimmicks. Based on the Democrats’ planned budget expenses, the state will have a budget reserve of less than one percent to address any unforeseen emergency.

To implement the tax increases necessary to reach their record level of spending,
Democrats altered the voter-approved I-601 spending limit to allow them to raise taxes with a simple majority vote and to redefine the state’s spending limit for the 2007-09 budget so state spending can grow at an even faster pace than currently authorized.

“Since the governor ran on a no-new-taxes platform, raising half a billion dollars in tax increases and gutting the voter-approved spending limit is nothing short of a betrayal,” said Jason Mercier, budget analyst for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. “A tax increase is a tax increase, no matter what label you slap on it.”

“The governor appears not to understand what prioritizing within available resources means,” said Mercier. “Raising taxes by half a billion dollars to increase state spending by nearly 12 percent is not prioritizing spending within available resources. This budget is not based on priorities of government— it’s a $26 billion tax-and-spend deficit maker.”


The discontinuity of the Democratic Caucus

Last Friday, the House voted narrowly (and twice) to pass legislation that suspends I-601. If you remember, this is the famous voter initiative that requires a supermajority (two-thirds) vote of the legislature to increase taxes.

Among the Democrats voting against this bill were Representative Kelli Linville (D-Bellingham), Rep. Tami Green (D-Tacoma), Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) and Reps. Dawn Morrell (D-Puyallup) and Rep. Larry Springer (D-Kirkland)…actually strike that; Reps. Morrell and Springer voted against it before they voted for it. The vote was taken twice because the first time it didn’t receive a Constitutional majority of 50 votes. The Democrats did not like the first outcome of the vote and a motion to reconsider was made so the D-caucus could whip come of their members back. Before you applaud the other three for a brief stint of conservative voting, consider this:

Just a week earlier the House passed its budget bill that includes a tax increase of nearly a half billion dollars and a 12% increase in spending – the highest in a decade! Linville, Green and Kilmer all voted in favor of this bill.

The Democratic controlled House and Senate needed to suspend I-601 to make their budget package work because they knew they didn’t have a supermajority to pass the tax increases in either chamber. So how can these legislators vote in favor of a half-billion dollar tax hike, and then vote against the mechanism to make this possible? Clearly theirs is a political interest rather than a representative one. Kilmer, Green and Springer are all freshmen and have voted conservatively all session long to protect their vulnerable seats. Linville is a legislator who will always ride the fence and please both sides of her constituency and never really takes a stand on these huge issues.

What this comes down to is job security before representation. It’s not that these legislators don’t agree with the tax and spend mentality. Keep that in mind when their voting record is brought up in next year’s elections. They are just as much to blame as the rest. This is a ideological conflict, not a political one.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Recommended read: 'Born-Again Democrats?'

If you are looking for a good read today, I refer you to the Center for Responsible Politics. Today's post is about the Democratic Party's new strategy to get involved in the values debate. While Conservatives have successfully captured that demographic, and while the religious voice seems to matter more in public discourse than it has in the last decade, Democrats are seeing the need to jump on the bandwagon.

This is ultimately a fatalistic strategy for them. Christian Americans are drawn to the political right because it is the ideology that promotes their values. Conservatives exist because of that base. Yet, Democrats appear to think that they can quote Jesus and attend church rallies to have the same captivating effect. There is no having it both ways. The religious demographic is based on moral fabric. Democrats want to court churchgoers, but don’t want to give up their positions on gay marriage, abortion, or stem cell research/human cloning. It’s an all or nothing base. Until liberals give up their secular doctrine, their efforts are in vain.

Read the CRP post
here. So far it’s my favorite read of the day.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The ‘awful’ session

To quote State Senator Dale Brandland (R-Bellingham), “We’ve had an awful session.” Brandland uttered those words just before storming off the Senate floor last week infuriated by anonymous calls to his office making lewd character accusations.

Bawdy phone calls aren’t the only reason this session has been awful. Democrats have run amok with their majorities in both houses and with their so-called governor. At least twice they have unraveled the will of voters by suspending or lifting laws enacted through citizen initiatives. First in suspending
I-601, an initiative passed in 1993 mandating a two-thirds majority vote in the legislature to raise taxes. Last weekend the House and Senate voted narrowly to lift that mandate and delivered a half billion dollar tax increase with just a simple majority.

Yesterday the Senate approved its transportation budget, again with tax increases. It also voted to successfully repeal the $30 car tabs that passed by a strong voter majority 6 years ago in
I-695. Now citizens are facing a $10-$20 increase in their car tabs. This shouldn’t bode well for residents of rural eastern Washington. Most of the funding will go towards mega-transportation projects in the Seattle/Puget Sound area.

I guess I can forget about having the Guide Meridian widened in Whatcom County, damn those Canadians. I digress.

Tim Eyman, the somewhat infamous voter initiative tycoon said of the vote on Wednesday night, "I have never seen such open hostility to the voters' having their voices heard.” No kidding. Eyman fans need not worry, though. He's planning an initiative next year to undo the legislature’s undoing.

These are shameful acts of arrogance. Considering that both of the above mentioned initiatives passed by strong voter majorities, what right does the legislature have to reverse them? When a representative of the people votes contrary to the direct will of his constituency, he has rendered himself a useless part of the Republic.

Voters should take note of this session. They should remember their 37.5 cents per gallon tax (That’s the newly passed 9.5 cents on top of the existing 28 cents) as they simultaneously watch their gas prices soar from external factors. And they should remember this session when they have to front 10% more for their plasma TV warranty at
Best Buy because we forgot to tax it before. Further, they should remember this session when the have to pay estate tax, sin tax, and high surcharges at the county auditor’s office.

They should take note and remove legislators like Rep. Dawn Morrell (D-Puyallup) and Rep. Kelli Linville (D-Bellingham) for their flip flopping on these major issues in the ’06 mid-term election.

My prediction is that this session is the undoing of democratic majorities in the legislature.

Rightfully so.

Possible template changes

You may notice periodic face lifts to this blog. I apologize if it confuses anyone. Spike the Underdog is still searching for an aesthetic appeal appropriate for its audience. Having a graphic design background, this type of thing becomes a never-ending quest. Bare with me through these interval changes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Celebrity Death Match...of scientists

Today’s favorite read comes from the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute. It’s no secret that I have strong leanings toward DI’s work. I am even a member of the organization. This is not in vain. DI has some great stuff to be said.

This week a debate on Intelligent Design and Evolution was hosted by the Discovery Institute at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The debate featured Discovery scholar Dr. Stephen C. Meyer and Dr. William Provine, the Charles Alexander Professor of Biology at Cornell University defending Evolution.

The CSC blog posted a summary of the debate. I encourage anyone who is interested in the topic to read it. You should especially read closely the brief by Discovery’s Logan Gage. Gage is a colleague of mine and a rising star on this issue. He is also quite possibly the smartest young whip under the age of 25 in all the 7 continents (note that I am 26).

You can find that post

Larry David drives a Prius, so should you

I realized on my way to work this morning that I have never heard of or seen a Toyota Prius before I moved to Olympia. Here at the state capital, those cars are all over. Even state agencies buy them for fleet vehicles.

I have no problem with hybrid vehicles. They are energy efficient, and economically sound. They are even making them up to standards with normal cars. A colleague blogged a while back (
here) about the 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid. It has just as much power as its all gasoline sibling.

But when did the car you drive become a political statement? Hmph. Superfluous.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Best of the Web rails Washington Dems

This is a great bit from Taranto’s Best of the Web. I plan to blog about this subject a little more later today:

Democrats Against Democracy
The Seattle Times reports on the latest goings-on in the Washington state Legislature in Olympia:
House Democrats yesterday cleared the way for tax increases by passing a bill that would let lawmakers raise taxes with a majority vote instead of the two-thirds vote now required.

Senate Bill 6078 would suspend part of Initiative 601, the spending-limit measure Washington voters approved in 1993, and make it possible for Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate to raise taxes without Republicans going along. It passed 50-43, with four Democrats siding with Republicans and voting against it.

Some may see an inconsistency in these Democrats opposing supermajority requirements while favoring the Senate filibuster in the other Washington. But the Washington state supermajority, unlike the U.S. Senate filibuster, was passed by the voters, so the Dems are entirely consistent in opposing democracy.