The partisan feud that took hold of the Virginia Senate and led to a budget standoff seemed to come to a close Thursday.
Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved a budget during a special legislative session that incorporated the Democrats' demands into the two-year, $85 billion spending plan.
Specifically, the new budget shifts more money into public schools and provides relief for increased tolls on the Martin Luther King Tunnel in Hampton Roads that connects Portsmouth and Norfolk, the AP reports.
The budget does not address Democrats' demands that they be given more equal power in the Senate.
The AP reports that hurdles still remain, including a critical floor vote on a proposed Democrat amendment that requires either insurers or the state to pay for the pre-abortion ultrasound examinations that will become mandatory for women under legislation passed through the General Assembly this year.
The budget is slated to go up for vote before the entire Senate on Monday and needs just one Democrat vote to pass in the evenly split Senate.
"On Monday, I seriously hope we pass a budget bill," said Sen. Charles J. Colgan, a Democrat.
Blue Virginia touted the committee vote as a victory for Democrats and said they passed an improved budget.
Senate Democrats win victory in fight to put more money into public schools, repair the safety net that supports the poorest Virginians, and reduce the amount commuters will pay for tolls
Today, Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee improved the Senate budget on a unanimous vote, providing additional funding for public schools, families who have suffered during the foreclosure crisis, and Virginia's most vulnerable
Gov. Bob McDonnell's camp had this to say (Via The Washington Post):
“It’s late, but its progress,” Tucker Martin, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, told the Post via e-mail. “Most importantly, its a recognition by Senate Democrats that the needs of our communities are more important than their desire for more committee seats. Finally, we’re talking policy and not politics, and now the budget process can get fully underway. While we will review all proposed amendments in depth prior to commenting on any specific items, the Governor thanks all involved for their work today in moving the budget forward.”
* In recent weeks petitioners trying to put pressure on McDonnell to not sign the voter ID bill have been making headlines.
On Wednesday, the Washington Examiner editorial board came out in favor the bill, urging the governor to sign it into the law.
The law, which passed through the House and Senate during session, would require Virginia voters who do not have proper identification to cast a provisional ballot. Under current law, voters without proper identification are required to sign an affidiavit swearing they are who they say they are, and can then cast a normal ballot.
Because there have been no significant reports of voter fraud in Virginia, the bill’s opponents say the legislation is intended to suppress minority voters and those who are least likely to have identification.
The Washington Examiner wrote:
"Listening to the media histrionics over the voter ID bill recently passed by the Virginia General Assembly and now sitting on Gov. Bob McDonnell's desk, one might surmise that this common sense measure to prevent voter fraud is, as one pundit put it, "the second coming of Jim Crow." It is not. Although the former Seat of the Confederacy does have an indefensible history of attempting to suppress the black vote, its voting system has been under Justice Department supervision for decades. For differing political reasons neither Republicans nor Democrats will publicly admit, the pending legislation's unspoken target is illegal immigrants, not black voters.."
"The argument that it would be too burdensome to require poor, elderly and minority citizens to produce identification in order to vote is specious at best because they already need ID to drive a car, qualify for Social Security and Medicare benefits, open a bank account, cash a check, buy alcohol, or board a commercial airline flight. Tighter documentation requirements only "disenfranchise" undocumented illegal immigrants, who are not legally allowed to vote."
* After a fun day with Mitt Romney Wednesday, Maryland will now play host to Newt Gingrich next Tuesday.
The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Gingrich is scheduled to walk along Main Street in Annapolis to talk to business owners.
Local officials are also trying to get Gingrich later in the day for an event on the Eastern Shore.
* Mayor Vincent Gray is scheduled to meet with Ward 6 and 7 residents to discuss the possibility of a new Redskins training facility.
NBC’s Tom Sherwood reports that Gray has long wanted to bring the Redskins back to the District. The football team currently plays its games in Maryland and has a practice facility in Virginia.
* Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced Thursday that he officially filed papers with the State Board of Elections to run for governor.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is also running for the Republican nomination.
From Cuccinelli’s statement:
"I am running for governor to continue the work I have undertaken during my tenure as attorney general and as a state senator. I will continue my work to strengthen our economy, preserve our liberty, and to promote the principles of smaller, more efficient state government, accountable to the people it serves. I look forward to sharing my vision for the commonwealth following the November elections.”