The Senate Chamber is empty but for Dean Cameron and Shawn Keough sitting down at the other end by the open windows talking about the staff upstairs. They are trying to produce the final appropriations bills to legislate various compromises and deals that will close out the session. It is all sticky because two education bills are still hanging in limbo on the Senate Calendar. These affect the education budgets by cutting school programs. Adult cystic fibrosis funding also is still in limbo, as are school facilities matching funds, gas taxes, and the details of what is to be done with the Governor's $44 million in discretionary stimulus dollars.
So the chamber is quiet as the sun warms the world outside. My colleagues are cheery in their good byes. We wish each other a good weekend. Monty Pearce comes to ask me if we Democrats are holding firm on not raising taxes for roads while we cut education budgets. The words steelhead caucus have echoed on Republican lips today. This is a bit like the days in years past when the Democrats together with blocks of Republicans worked together to accomplish much in the legislature.
Some day, when moderate Republicans and Democrats get together, Mike Moyle and his conservative house leadership will finally have a problem. They will no longer be pulling the governor and Senate around by the nose. It will likely be hard on those moderate Republicans in the House at first. But if enough were brave, it would, at some point, become hard for Moyle to punish them all. From day care standards and education funding, to state employees, energy conservation and healthcare, things might change.