Dear Robin:

Thanks for the call Friday, I enjoyed the chat. Since we covered so much ground, I’ll keep this quick.

I know you and the other leaders are working behind closed doors right now on a budget deal. And I know that the consensus in the Capitol is that you have to come up with a deal – any deal – to keep Senator Mike Ellis and Luther Olsen happy and get everybody out of there as fast as possible.

There’s tremendous pressure to cave on school choice, tax cuts, and who knows what other horrible stuff your senate colleagues might want to cram down your throat in the last few hours of talks.

So here is some short, unsolicited advice: there’s no rush. You don’t need to cut a deal the senators will like. It’s the first week in June for godsakes. You've got time and (more important) you've got the leverage.

That’s because you get to go first.

Whatever Joint Finance does Tuesday – and it sounds as if they will be swallowing a gigantic crap sandwich – you don’t have to go along. You need to make them blink.

In fact, you still hold the cards:  you have 60 GOP votes and since you get to act on the budget first, Republicans in the Assembly can pass a budget with meaningful choice expansion and a robust tax reform/cut package… and then dare the senate GOP to cut it down.

If Ellis/Olsen want a smaller tax cut, make them vote for it in a roll-call. If they really want a zero tax cut, dare them to push it on the floor of the senate. In public. In the light of day. On the record.

Don’t let them off the hook by agreeing to a watered down tax cut in private; make them make a case for more spending and taxes in front of God, man, and the conservative base. 

Okay, maybe this will mean a conference committee and maybe you’ll have to compromise somewhere down the line. But why not take a strong stand now? 

Why not make Ellis/Olsen show their cards to the rest of us?