Archive for February 2009
The Virginia House of Delegates just passed the state budget by a vote of 90-8. The Senate is now in the process of passing the same bill as well. If that goes as planned the next step is the Governor’s desk.
Governor Tim Kaine is scheduled to meet with the media at 6:30 tonight. We will have a crew there and have more during our 11pm news.
Lawmakers at the state capitol struck a deal last night that could mean that session will end on time. Today is supposed to be the final day of votes for this short session, and both houses are expected to take up the new agreed to budget plan as soon as 4pm.
We will have the latest on the budget process, including what changes that have been made that could impact you tonight on NBC12 news at 6pm.
**UPDATE** The House of Delegates is in recess until 5pm. The Senate until 4:30pm. No budget votes are expected until then and it could go even later. (quick updates at twitter.com/ryanobles)
Here is the AP’s story on where the budget stands right now:
RICHMOND, Va . (AP) – House and Senate budget negotiators reached a tentative midnight agreement Friday on amendments to the state’s cash-starved $77 billion budget.
The accord leaves in doubt whether the General Assembly will take a rushed final vote on the 16-month spending blueprint late Saturday or adjourn late for the sixth time in eight years.
Six senators and six House members bickered right up to the moment they sealed the deal with a handshake minutes before 12 a.m.
The consensus the two sides reached uses about $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money to offset a $3.7 billion shortfall, the deepest on record in Virginia.
It would restore most of the cuts a plunging economy and poor tax collections forced on health care, public safety and education.
(c) 2009. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Does anyone remember the debate held last summer at The Homestead in Hot Springs between Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner? That debate was less than a year ago, but the issues that the two sparred about on that day could not be more different than the top issues concerning Virginians today. At the time, Warner and Gilmore found a way to weave the answer to every single question back to their commitment to find a way to make America energy independent. In Gilmore’s case that solution kept back to his belief that we need to drill right way away.
It seemed like only a few months later the price of oil fell dramatically and the credit crisis began. All of the sudden as the price of gas dropped below $2 a gallon the idea of “drill baby drill” became less and less urgent.
While that issue may have been relegated to the background, the problems connected to it have not gone away. I would imagine that very few Virginians have confidence that this low price honeymoon with the gas pump is here to stay. The answers to this problem offer us the opportunity to draw clear distinctions in the race for Governor in a year where all of the candidates are doing their best to hide their partisan prerogatives.
Read more about how the Democrats responded after the jump…
You are probably wondering what a picture of me playing handball has to do with Virginia’s portion of the federal stimulus plan. Tonight at 11 on NBC12, I hope to show you.
At the beginning of February Governor Kaine unveiled a new website designed to give average Virginians the chance to submit proposals (however wacky they may be) as to how the stimulus money should be spent. I spend a good portion of today pouring over the submissions, which at this point number close to 4,000.
Their are many legitimate ideas, that include widening sections of highways, building new schools, and countless other examples of the FDR style infrastructure investments that President Barack Obama has proposed. But as you might imagine there are plenty of other ideas that can be described as either innovate or insane depending on your perspective.
Tonight at 11, I will introduce you John Bragg, an energetic idea man who submitted a proposal to the government’s website hoping to receive funding. His proposal involved me playing handball. Tune in to see his plan.
It’s not too late to submit your proposal for funding. Just go to the government’s website site: www.stimulus.virginia.gov and follow the directions. They must be submitted by Friday March 6th.
After the jump you will find some of the proposals I found particularly interesting.
I just got done interviewing Rep. Eric Cantor about tonight’s Presidential address by Barack Obama. We talked about a wide range of topics including the President’s plan to increase taxes on the wealthy and the merits of bi-partisanship. I also got his take on how he feels the stimulus money (which will come from a plan he voted against) should be spent in Virginia.
A number of prominent Republican governors across the country have talked about not taking some or all of the stimulus money. Some GOP lawmakers in Richmond have criticized Governor Tim Kaine‘s plan to fill a large gap in the state’s budget with stimulus cash.
Cantor’s take was simple. If the money won’t be specifically be used to “Preserve, protect or create jobs” it should be left on the table.
Listen to the entire soundbite, and read the transcript after the jump.
**DON’T FORGET TO JOIN IN TONIGHT AT 8:45 at www.nbc12.com FOR OUR LIVEBLOG OF THE OBAMA SPEECH**
Tonight President Barack Obama will be delivering an address to a joint session of congress that will be about the condition of the country and be held in late February, however it WON’T be the State of the Union. Technically Mr. Obama is not required to deliver a formal “State of the Union” because he was just inaugurated about a month ago. So tonight will have the look and feel of a State of the Union, it just won’t be called that.
We will cover the President’s address from Richmond and will once again be looking for your input during our liveblog which will take place on nbc12.com. The liveblog will launch around 8:45 prior to the President’s speech. We will recap some of your best comments during our 11pm news and I will post some of them on my twitter feed as well. (Which if you aren’t following yet, sign up!)
We are also set to talk to Rep. Eric Cantor today about the speech. (ICYMI- Cantor had an interesting exchange with Obama yesterday and Politico had a story today about his relationship with his Democratic counterpart Steny Hoyer).
Tonight during the liveblog, we will be most interested in how you think the President’s plans could impact us here in Central Virginia. So read up and prepare. I will join you tonight on nbc12.com for the discussion.
Granted, Terry McAuliffe didn’t even show up, but that is not stopping Brian Moran from feeling good about a victory last night in the Mount Vernon Straw Poll. It was an event staged by insiders for insiders, but as straw polls often do, it demonstrated a certain degree of organizational capacity and grass roots support.
Straw polls don’t mean anything other than what they signify and this case it signifies the Moran camp’s continued dedication to work party rank and file to their side. While the general election may come down to who can prevent huge losses in their weaker parts of the state, the Democratic primary has the potential to be all about Northern Virginia. Moran continues to play to his base. He is working hard to lock them up and then build from there.
You can see a wrap of the event on Blue Commonwealth. (It includes the results from the other statewide races, which were contested as well)
And while it may be hard to gauge the full level of Moran’s support because McAuliffe wasn’t there, the Macker’s absence speaks volumes. He appears to only be interested in getting into fights he can win.
It may turn out to be a minor blip on the democratic primary radar, but it is still worth noting. Much like McAuliffe’s legitimate television buy shows the depth of his pocket books, Moran’s continued support from democratic party loyalists shows where he continues to be strong.
More on McAuliffe and Moran after the jump..
I got the chance to spend a few minutes this afternoon with outgoing Attorney General and Republican Candidate for Governor Bob McDonnell. It was “photo friendly” opportunity to catch up with McDonnell who was actually boxing up his office in anticipation of his move to full time candidate.
McDonnell will now go back to work as a private attorney working for his old firm of Huff, Poole & Mahoney P.C in Virginia Beach. McDonnell talked about his accomplishments in the Attorney General’s office and the challenge he has ahead in the race for Governor. He acknowledged that the eyes of the country will be on the race because of its position as an off-year election. He said that he doesn’t feel any additional pressure, but welcomes the support he expects to receive from Republicans across the country ready to get back into the victory column.
I will get some video up from the exchange at some point tonight and you can see more from the interview tonight on NBC12 at 11.
**UPDATE** to see video from the interview along with some kind things that people said about the AG on his last day (Republican and Democrat) click here.
We are now just waiting for Governor Tim Kaine‘s signature before the smoking ban officially becomes law. We spoke to the Governor and Del. Chris Peace about the issue.
Tonight at 11 on NBC12, I’ll have another live report from the State Capitol, where we will hear what Virginians have to say about this new law, which will take effect December 1st.
I have a complete report on NBC12 coming up at 5 and 6. We will hear from Gov. Tim Kaine to get his thoughts on this important legislative victory and from local Del. Chris Peace who voted against the measure.
I will have more here later as well and updates on my twitter page.