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Spin Control

WA Lege SpecSess: Cut McKenna’s budget? Not likely right now

OLYMPIA — Although some Democratic legislators have talked of cutting Attorney General Rob McKenna’s budget to keep him from joining the lawsuit against federal health care reform, right now it appears just that. Talk.

First, the Legislature has bigger budget issues to settle, such as how to raise taxes to come  up with about $800 million to throw into the $2.8 billion gap in the general operating fund budget.

Second, two legislators who are leaders on health care issues said they are “looking at all kinds of options”, which generally means they haven’t settled on any specific option like cutting the AG’s budget.

But Sen. Karen Keiser of Des Moines and Rep. Eileen Cody of Seattle aren’t doing nothing about McKenna’s decision to join with a dozen or so other states in challenging the constitutionality of the  new law. They are…

…writing him a letter.

The letter will detail the good things they see coming to Washington from health care reform, including the fact that this is not an unfunded mandate. The state actually gains money, which it can use to defray the costs of health care here, so it’s the opposite of an unfunded mandate, they said.

To any suggestion that Democrats are just “playing politics” with the whole lawsuit issue, Cody replied “That’s sort of the pot calling the kettle black.” (Note: under the strictest of interpretations, that answer would be read as ‘Yes we are, but he started it’, not ‘No way are we playing politics with this issue.’)

Of course, part of the lawsuit involves the consitutionality of the new law. If it’s unconstutional, does it matter if Washington is a net winner in the whole thing; isn’t it the defense of the constitution the important thing?

Fraser said she wasn’t a constitutional scholar, but “If this is unconstitutional, so is Medicare and Medicare Part D.”

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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