GLASS HOUSES

You know the real fun is about to start when politicians start blogging about honesty and how the other side doesn’t play by the rules.  

Republican State Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler took to the Senate Republican Caucus blog last week to try to put pressure on the House Democrats as they prepare to release their budget proposal. Sounding like a cross between Ward Cleaver and Batman, Senator Schoesler warns the House to “play by the rules,” and spells out what “we expect from an honest budget proposal.” It seems that the Majority Leader is unwilling to talk about any budget proposal from the House that doesn’t include all the tax bills needed to pay for it. He threatens that such a proposal will “keep us here well past our scheduled adjournment date.”

fp1Senator Schoesler professes to care about rules and honesty, but he certainly doesn’t seem to have much use for consistency. On March 11, Senator Schoesler and all of his senate Republican colleagues (including budget chair Andy Hill, who Senator Schoesler name checks as his partner in demanding “honesty” from the Democrats) voted for SB 5954—a bill that does exactly what Senator Schoesler would forbid Democrats from doing.  

SB 5954 would reduce tuition at our state universities and colleges and promises to ante up the three or four hundred million dollars that would cost the institutions.  But it doesn’t say a word about where that money would come from. Both Senator Schoesler and Senator Hill spoke on the Senate floor to encourage their colleagues to vote for the bill and worry about where the money would come from later. All the speeches about responsibility and making sure the money is there to pay for something came from Democrats.  Senator Barbara Bailey, the Senate Higher Education Committee chair and SB 5954’s prime sponsor, along with Senators Schoesler and Hill, all sounded like New Deal Democrats as they righteously proclaimed that reducing tuition was The Right Thing To Do and were blithely unconcerned about how to pay for it.  

At this point, we might begin to worry that the years of proclaiming about bi-partisan majority coalitions have taken their toll and the Senate Majority Leader has become unable to remember from one day to the next whether he is a Republican or a Democrat. But fear not, gentle reader, it all makes sense as soon as we remember that the 2016 election season has already begun.  

When Senator Schoesler wags his finger at House Democrats about honesty and rules, what he really means is that he wants them to take votes that will allow Republicans in 2016 to say, “my opponent voted to raise your taxes.”  And when he waxes poetic about reducing tuition, what he really means is that he wants 2016 Republican candidates to be able to say, “I voted to lower tuition without raising taxes.” Apparently, this sort of thing works in elections.         

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