Political partisanship — the seemingly constant Republicans vs. Democrats battle that puts party over reason — has gone too far.
Now, the two political parties are essentially fighting over letting kids show sheep.
The Washington Legislature has actually made funding for county fairs a partisan issue.
The Republican-controlled Senate is calling for $4 million to be spent on fairs in its two-year budget proposal, while the Democrat-controlled House has zero – zip, zilch, nada – dollars allocated to subsidize county fairs.
It’s absurd. It’s part of the political shenanigans that go into writing and approving the two-year state budget.
Rep. Bill Jenkin, the freshman Republican lawmaker from Prosser, said he believes the fair funding has been taken out of the House budget by Democrats because they hope to use it as a bargaining chip in the budget negotiating process.
Few, on either side of the political aisle, would disagree — at least privately.
Publicly, both sides are happy to spin it any way necessary to get some political mileage.
In the end, it’s nearly certain that the funding for fairs will be restored. Not doing so would come off as being petty and mean. Democrats likely won’t let it come to that.
But, for now, the House is playing the game and wants some quid pro quo (something for something) from the Senate if it puts the fair funding back in the budget. Meanwhile, the GOP is happy to pin the Snidely Whiplash handlebar mustache on the Democrats.
House Democrats aren’t doing themselves any favors letting this one drag on.
The $4 million sought to subsidize state fairs is a tiny portion of the state budget, which will ultimately be well over $40 billion. So for the Democrats to deny the funding would be like someone who has an income of $100,000 a year not giving her kid $10 to go, well, to a county fair.
And the actual impact seems to be just as petty.
The state funds are critical to fairs in places, such as Columbia County, where the anticipated state funding, $33,500, makes up about 23 percent of the total fair budget of $145,500 for 2017. In Walla Walla County, the impact is far less. Anticipated state subsidy for this year’s fair is $57,000, which would be about 4.8 percent of the projected total fair budget of $1.18 million.
“The smaller fairs wouldn’t be able to operate without those funds,” said Sharon Richter, the Columbia County auditor.
So, do Democrats really want to endure campaign ads showing sad little faces, tears streaming down their faces, in front of a county fairgrounds with a big red sign across it that says “CLOSED!”
This one is a political loser for Democrats. Fund county fairs and get on with the business of adopting a state budget that serves the entire state.