Republican freshmen play role in revised budget

Tacoma News Tribune

By Jordan Schrader

It wasn’t easy for state Senate Republicans to peel three Democrats away from their party, which they needed to secure a 25-vote majority on the budget.

But it has been even harder to keep the 22 Republicans together, said one of them, Spokane Sen. Michael Baumgartner.

“That takes as much diplomacy as I ever saw in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Baumgartner, a former State Department officer (and a U.S. Senate candidate).

It took some changes to their party’s budget to get Baumgartner and three other GOP freshmen to stand front and center today and praise it at a press conference with budget writer Joe Zarelli and others. (More on the latest proposal).

“We’ve made no secret about our priorities,” said Sen. Joe Fain of Auburn, saying those include K-12 schools, higher education and day care for the working poor. “Sen. Zarelli did an excellent job of listening to our concerns, and others in the community, about why we needed to put forth a proposal that prioritized those programs.”

A post today at the news website Publicola suggests that one of the renegade Democrats, Puyallup’s Jim Kastama, joined the freshmen in urging Republicans to restore cuts to education.