Budget battle continues with partisan lines drawn
If you thought the election of 2011 was settled, think again. Virginia is in the middle of bitter partisan fight at a State Capitol historically known for its bi-partisan cooperation. It all tracks back to last November and an election that did not clearly hand power to a single party in the Virginia Senate. As a result, every controversial vote has come down to hectic, last-minute deals. Deals that often aren’t known until the vote is finally taken on the Senate floor.
While the battles over social issues are over, democrats are holding on to the one remaining power they have left to play, their vote on the budget. Republicans cannot use Lt. Governor Bill Bolling‘s tie-breaking vote to pass the budget. Therefore, their 20 votes are enough to stop the $85 billion spending plan in its tracks. It’s allowed them to whittle away at GOP priorities and inject their limited voice into the Virginia government agenda.
It was a tactic that was successful and despite some chirping from newspaper editorial boards, it went largely unnoticed by the public. Tuesday’s vote to stall the budget for the third time, for a third different reason takes the argument into new territory. Last week the Gov. Bob McDonnell led Virginia Department of Transportation warned that they will start scaling back projects on May 1st, just a few weeks away. Localities are waiting on funding decisions that could be the differences between staffing teachers and police officers or going without. It is a showdown that could leave the reputation of both sides at risk.
Here is my story from NBC12 on where things stand right now:
RICHMOND (WWBT)- The threat of a Virginia government shutdown is growing after democrats at the State Capitol refused to pass a state budget.
This is the third time senate democrats have stood their ground, for the third different reason.
The division between democrats and republicans seems to be growing wider, and the time left to pass a budget is growing shorter. If the two sides don’t resolve their differences, state government as we know it is in big trouble.
It is a warning governor Bob McDonnell first sounded weeks ago. He repeated it again Tuesday.
“Everything from teacher funding to current VDOT projects will be slowed or potentially postponed,” said the governor.
Without a passed state budget, the government can’t operate. The current budget ends June 30th. It is a date fast approaching with no tangible sign of agreement to be found.
“They are the problem,” said McDonnell.
No agreement, but plenty of blame to go around.
“This is the most fiscally irresponsible act that I’ve seen during my career,” said McDonnell.
But democrats like Sen. Don McEachin (D- Henrico) believe the republicans are blowing things out of proportion
“There are those who want to scare the public and say the government will shut down,” said McEachin. “That is not the case.”
McEachin is among the most vocal hard line democrats. A group that three different times has used their 20 votes to block the budget from moving forward.
….read and see the rest of the story at NBC12.com.
Governor Bob McDonnell kept his composure, but was clearly angry with the democratic vote:
Meanwhile Henrico Senator Don McEachin doesn’t appeared worried about the budget timeline: