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Thursday, April 9, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control: GOP’s budget metaphor oversqueezed

OLYMPIA – It’s time for someone to give Senate Republican budget writers a new metaphor for hyperbolic parsimony.

Looking at the state’s less-than-cheery prospects of matching income to outgo last week, the chief GOP Senate budgeteer deployed the well-worn image of personal thriftiness, the squeezed toothpaste tube.

“I’m the kind of guy who, with toothpaste, I squeeze the tube as empty as I can get it and then I cut it open and scrape out the rest and then I buy a new tube,” Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond said. “That’s the way I approach budgeting this year.”

He wouldn’t absolutely rule out any tax increases, but only after the budget has been scraped of any remaining bits of, well, stuff that can be scraped out.

When Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, his House budget-writing counterpart, said he thought the tube has been squeezed pretty dry over the past few years, Hill wasn’t convinced. Everybody says that when the session starts in January, Hill countered.

“For the last four years I’ve heard that tube of toothpaste has been squeezed all it could be squeezed,” he said. And yet, they find “other ways to get more toothpaste out.”

Setting aside the question of whether or not Hill actually does the toiletry shopping for his family or lines his children up to dab toothpaste remainders onto their brushes at night – someone that cheap surely wouldn’t let anyone else do the tube slicing for fear of missing a bit here or there – there must be some metaphor for a $36 billion budget other than an overworked tube of Crest, even if it’s the kind that whitens, brightens, fights cavities, protects against plaque buildup and leaves one’s breath minty fresh.

Another way to divvy up the state Supreme Court

Legislators may be asked to split the state into districts to elect the state Supreme Court justices, an idea that got a sometimes friendly, sometimes skeptical hearing Friday before the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

Jason Mercier, of the Center for Government Reform, likes it, saying the different sides of the state have different industries, cultures and perspectives. Democrats on the committee weren’t enthusiastic, with Sen. Jeannie Darnielle of Tacoma saying some people move around so much that you can’t determine their perspective from their current address.

Justice Debra Stephens is the only current member of the court from the Spokane area, and the others were working somewhere in Western Washington before getting appointed or elected to the court. But Spokane is better represented than any other area in one respect – Gonzaga University Law School has the most graduates on the court, with three. After that, it’s one each from University of Puget Sound, North Carolina, Duke, University of California-Berkeley, USC and Notre Dame. That’s right, none from University of Washington.

Perhaps some Husky will come up with a proposal for the court to have a proportional representation for the number of graduates its law school turns out?

The count continues on election ballots

Why do we have to wait so long for our results?, some Washington candidates and campaigns whine every election night. Why can’t we be like Oregon?

Washington counts ballots postmarked by Election Day, regardless of when they arrive. Oregon requires them to be in hand on Election Day; postmark doesn’t count. So it was with amusement that we noted a story out of supposed electoral gold-standard Oregon last week that one of that state’s ballot issues is now in doubt because of about 13,000 ballots recently counted around the state. They’re “challenge” ballots, meaning there’s something wrong, like their signature doesn’t match the one on file.

But, in fact, they’re still counting in Oregon and the GMO initiative may be headed for a recount. In Washington, we’re still counting, but nothing’s in doubt.

Political reporter Jim Camden can be reached at jimc@spokesman.com or (509) 879-7461.

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