Capitol Notebook: Quoth the Senate: 'Nevermore'

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2002

Juneau's Rep. Beth Kerttula expressed something like political despair this week.

Although she sketched a rosier vision for 2003, Kerttula told fellow Democrats at the Bill Egan Forum luncheon that she pretty much has given up on a long-range fiscal plan this year.

This gloomy mood can overtake members of the bipartisan Fiscal Policy Caucus when they contemplate the Senate, where Republican leaders have vowed to resist major taxes until there are new constitutional restraints on spending. It seems that when members of the House refer to the Senate as "the dark side," they're only half-kidding.

So, in lieu of antidepressants, I offer this, an attempt to imagine morbid bard Edgar Allan Poe as co-chairman of the Fiscal Policy Caucus:

The Senate

Once upon a session dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary

Over many a fat and tedious volume of past task-force lore

While I drafted, nearly taxing, suddenly there came a cracking,

As of someone loudly axing, axing at the chamber door

" 'Tis some crouching grouch," I muttered, "axing at the chamber door -

Only this and nothing more."

Open then I flung the caucus, when, with manner acute and raucous,

In trod the not-so-stately Senate with its daily phrase of no

Not the least taxation made they; but amendment stopped and stayed they;

And taking charge of means and ways, posed about the chamber floor

Posed around the bills for taxes all throughout the chamber floor

Posed, and stared, and nothing moved.

"Senate!" said I, "foes of taxes! - fiscal gap will strap and whack us!

By those voters who tend to hate us, by that gov we both implore

Tell this House with rev'nue pending if, within your cap on spending,

We can keep a spade descending and pile more at the schoolhouse door

Keep a spade and shovel digging to pile at the schoolhouse door."

Quoth the Senate: "Nevermore."

"Senate!" said I, "bane of progress! - spending cap is fake and senseless!

Whether income tax, or whether season's sales be kept ashore,

Resolution still we're needing, for this budget that's been bleeding,

Funds for fast ferries we're pleading, with no gas line at the fore

Is there - is there - base that's broad? - tell me by 2004."

Quoth the Senate: "Nevermore."

And the Senate, never stirring, still demurring, still demurring

Stares at tabled bills for taxes all throughout the chamber floor

And the money's fast a-draining from the fund for day that's raining

And the perm'fund they're raiding makes it shameful on the floor

And my div'dend from out those earnings that lie shrinking on the floor

Shall be paid out - nevermore!

Bill McAllister, who isn't usually morbid but who admits to once drinking a glass of Amontillado at Poe's grave in Baltimore, can be reached at

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