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In politics, always check your change

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By Jay Miller

NAPILI BAY, MAUI — Rep. Benjamin Rodefer, D-Albuquerque, wants to see a joint House-Senate caucus called to work out a budget for next year. The freshman representative says current discussions aren’t even close to representing the will or intent of either Democratic caucus.

He’s right. A similar situation occurred back in the 1970s and 1980s when a liberal Democratic group called the Mama Lucys ran the House. One of its leaders was former Rep. David Salman, D-Mora, who recently passed away.

Although the Mama Lucys held a narrow majority in their caucus, a coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats controlled most of the votes. And eventually, the coalition just decided to take over leadership of the House.

Later, the same thing happened in the Senate. And at that point, minority Republicans controlled both chambers of the Legislature in the early 80s. Primary election battles and party switches sorted out the confusion by the late 80s.

We’re seeing a similar situation now at both the state and national level. At the state level, it seems very peculiar to see a Democratic-controlled Legislature supporting increases in the gross receipts tax, which proportionally hits the poor as a greater percentage of their income.


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