com·pro·mise [kom-pruh-mahyz] noun 1. a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands. 2. the result of such a settlement.
State house and senate Democrats released a new budget proposal yesterday that they claim to be a "significant compromise" over previous Democratic budget proposals. Maybe. I guess. You know, depending on how you define the word "compromise."
As I understand the word, it implies having a good faith negotiating partner on the other side of the table available to compromise with. Otherwise, simply giving in to the other side's demands is less of a compromise and more a concession. And even as such, it's unlikely that the Democrats' concessions go nearly far enough to meet the Republicans' inflexible demands.
This new proposal spends about $816 million less than the previously passed house budget, the bulk of the savings shaved from K-12 education spending—cuts largely made necessary by dropping a proposed extension of about $620 million worth of expiring business taxes. That said, Democrats have also introduced a companion measure, the Education Investment Act, that softens the blow by eliminating seven business exemptions worth $255 million, and redirecting that money to the Education Legacy Trust Fund.
With the Education Investment Act, the house budget would add $959 million to K-12 spending above the 2011-2013 budget, without the act it would add $704 million. The original house budget would have added $1.27 billion as a down payment on the McCleary decision.
So yeah, when it comes to taxes, the Democrats have made a bunch of concessions. But will that be enough to get the Republicans to give a little something too?
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, said in a short statement that he was disappointed by the House budget proposal but did not specify which portions he was concerned about.
"We in the Senate will continue to work with our House colleagues to seek a workable compromise, but we will not let political expediency stand in the way of fulfilling our obligation to provide for our schools," he said in the written statement.
What a load of shit.
What has Senator Tom and his colleagues so disappointed is the fact that the Democratic budget still includes $159 million from closing a loophole in the voter-approved estate tax, and $161 million from a telecom tax reform that is broadly supported by the telecom industry. The Republicans said no new taxes and they mean no new taxes (even though the estate tax isn't new, and failure to pass the telecom tax reform could expose the state to more than $800 million in litigation liability).
Republicans want a budget agreement with no new revenue. But they also want an agreement that punishes workers with unnecessary workers' compensation and pension reforms, and that punishes teachers by essentially allowing school principals to fire them at will. And they're not going to let "political expediency" (like an economy-wrecking government shutdown) get in their way.
And if that's their idea of "compromise," then compromise isn't possible.