Morning. Sitting at my desk on the Senate Floor. The trees outside the Senate chamber windows now have leaves. The House has shut down. House members wander the hall in jeans. Republican Majority Leader Mike Moyle has on a striped shirt with his. Senators sit at desks, reading the paper, chatting and answering e-mail while Republican leaders decide just how we proceed. Senate Republican Majority Leader calls Mike Moyle into the back and we sit and wait.
Yesterday the House half of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee met alone and passed budget bills out to the House floor. Idaho's budget system is praised nationally for its efficiency and cooperation. The 20 member committee with ten house member and ten senators, four Democrats and sixteen Republicans, has, for decades, crafted balanced budgets for the state and kept our process smooth and consensus driven.
Yesterday's break from that practice is no small thing. This year with Moyle's penchant for running his 52 member caucus like a boot camp, and with him positioning to run for Speaker after Lawrence Denny retires, the stakes in these battles seem to have been raised. There is an assertion of power that is palpable in here to all of us. If we ever wondered if one man could hijack this process, we may have an answer.
On JFAC this year, Moyle and House Republican leadership got their 8 Republican members voting lock step on several issues, schools, state employee pay. They strong-armed the House co-chair Maxing Bell and she was caught between the House, Senate, Governor and her long and honorable place in Idaho's budget writing process and its history. But House Republicans control only 8 members of the 20 member committee. Shirley Ringo, our senior Democratic member and Wendy Jaquet serve there for House Democrats. So on those instances when all or nearly all Senate Republicans supported smaller cuts to state employee pay, and all four Democrats also wanted smaller cuts to state employee pay, Mike Moyle could not get his way.
I have no doubt this frustrated him. I sense he very much worked to find other leverage points. Maxine may have been one of those. I don't know. Not to get his way is not something he might not be used to now.
So to have the House yesterday have its half of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) meet alone and pass budget bills, and then for the House to preemptively bang the gavel, adjourn and go Sine Die for the year should be a resounding message to the State of Idaho. That gavel sound was the sound of one man seizing power.
Even if I agree with Mike Moyle in opposing Otter's $80 million in new taxes and fees for roads in a year like this, the sound of that gavel falling last night sent a chill down my spine. It should send a chill down the spine of any Idahoan who cares about Democracy, ballance of powers, and the integrity of the legislative process.