Letters to the Editor

Legislator takes issue with Hurst comments

A May 4 piece from Rep. Christopher Hurst, entitled “Work across the aisle needed,” mischaracterized House Republicans and why the Legislature is mired in a costly special session.

Please allow me to share something that often surprises people: A vast majority of bills pass our citizen Legislature with strong, bipartisan support. For major issues in which there are disagreements, it’s the responsibility of the majority party (Democrats) to lead and the role of the minority party (Republicans) to offer alternative solutions.

It’s disappointing Rep. Hurst suggested House Republicans have not participated in the budget process. The facts simply show otherwise. He does not serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, so perhaps he’s unaware the House Republican budget leader has worked closely with his Democratic counterpart. In fact, they are meeting as I write this piece.

House Republicans have indeed criticized parts of the House Democrats’ budget because we collectively arrived at the conclusion it’s unsustainable, lacks necessary reforms and makes too deep of cuts to education and the developmentally disabled. We felt it was vital to offer alternative solutions, so we took the rare step of writing our own budget – 437 pages of contrast that reflect our principles and priorities.

It’s important to remember that Democrats have enough votes in the House (56-42) and Senate (27-22) to pass the budget. When Rep. Hurst said House Republicans need to work across the aisle, it’s a smokescreen for Democratic infighting that is prolonging an unnecessary special session.

Rep. Hurst also said we have an opportunity “to reign (sic) in … the growth in the size of state government,” but failed to mention he voted for a budget in 2007 that blew through the state’s surplus, grew state government and set the stage for multibillion dollar budget shortfalls. We wish he would have worked across the aisle when Republicans sounded the alarm on out-of-control state spending and emphasized the need to improve our state’s business climate.

In Rep. Hurst’s defense, he’s part of a self-proclaimed “Roadkill Caucus.” The phrase refers to a group of moderate Democrats who continue to be run over by their liberal leadership in the Legislature. The special session highlights their ongoing differences. For example, a barrier to success for businesses is workers’ compensation insurance costs. Our state’s monopolistic system is inefficient, costly for employers and workers, and headed toward insolvency. A bipartisan coalition that includes the governor, all Republicans and moderate Democrats in the House and Senate want reform now.

Who is holding up this bipartisan effort? As editorial boards from across our state have highlighted: The liberal Democratic leadership in the House.

The failures of one-party control in Olympia are escalating. Since Democrats took control of the House, Senate and governor’s office in 2005, problems in our economy, budget and education and health care systems have grown. “Work across the aisle is needed,” but it’s Rep. Hurst’s House colleagues that need to move to the center and embrace alternative solutions for the betterment of our state.

Rep. Bill Hinkle

R-Cle Elum

House Ways and Means Committee

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