Washington state is better served by a split government

A government divided politically has served Washington state well, writes guest columnist Rodney Tom.

DURING my legislative career, I knocked on more than 32,000 constituent doors in Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond. The one thing I know for certain about voters: most people think both parties are crazy.

They think Democrats want to spend every dollar in their back pocket, and Republicans want to involve themselves in personal social issues that are none of their business. After serving in both Republican and Democrat caucuses while representing the 48th Legislative District in Olympia, I can attest there is no party representing those in the middle who are fiscally prudent and socially progressive.

I was first elected to the House in 2002 as a Republican, but was quickly ostracized for my pro-abortion rights, pro-gay marriage social stances. I found myself agreeing more with Democrats and announced I was changing parties before I was elected to the Senate in 2006. But I continued to chafe at the polarization between the parties.

Both parties catered to their hard-core bases, more interested in scoring political points than resolving real issues. In 2013, another Democrat and I joined with 23 Republicans to form the Majority Coalition Caucus, focusing on a no-new taxes budget prioritized around education. We agreed to stay away from the social issues that divided us.

Most citizens are frustrated by the state Legislature’s continual need for overtime sessions every year. The question is: Would one-party rule solve the problem? We could find out if the Democrats, who control the state House and governor’s mansion, also take the 45th Legislative District seat on this year’s ballot, and flip the now GOP-controlled Senate.

But, I believe we’re better served by a split government, where no single party is in complete control — both at the state and national levels. For our businesses to thrive, they need predictability and moderation, not wild swings from left to right and vice versa.

Unlike the other Washington, here Democrats and Republicans have worked together to achieve great things.

The Senate Majority Coalition advanced the nation’s only four-year balanced-budget requirement, which…

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