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One month later, Democrats' defection still raw in Wash.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The three Washington Senate Democrats who broke from their caucus last month to vote with Republicans face renewed criticism - from their fellow Democrats. At issue is whether to link a series of government reforms to a plan to rebalance the state budget.

It was more than a month ago that minority Republicans seized control of the Washington senate and passed a budget. They couldn’t have done it without the help of three conservative Democrats: Senators Tim Sheldon, Rodney Tom and Jim Kastama.

Oddly, after the takeover, the three renegades returned to the Democratic caucus room as if nothing had happened. But now residual anger has come back with a vengeance. Democratic State Senator Kevin Ranker says trust and respect levels have been damaged.

“I am extremely frustrated by the three members who crossed over and remain so,” Ranker said.

Senator Rosemary McAuliffe is even more blunt: “There are three Democrats who are holding us hostage and they have held us hostage the whole time.”

The three breakaway Democrats, including Senator Kastama, are unapologetic.

“Really, the confirmation we’ve received from the public is we made the right move,” Kastama said.

The current 30-day special session expires next Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.