House Appropriations Committee chairman, Del. Lacey Putney, I-Bedford, right, addresses the House during the session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, March 1, 2012. Putney asked for unanimous consent to introduce a budget bill. The House acceded to the request. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia House and Senate lawmakers reached a tentative budget agreement Thursday night, but trouble may still lie ahead for the two-year, $85 billion budget.
While the budget allocates more money toward public education and health resources than Gov. Bob McDonnell’s original spending plan, it does not address Democrats’ demands to put aside $700 million toward transportation projects.
Senate Democratic Leader Richard Saslaw said that while the budget may make it past the negotiations table, it might not pass a Senate vote.
“Then we've got a problem -- huge. You ain't got 21 votes in the Senate for a budget, period -- not now, not next week, not next month, not June. That's the way it is,” The AP reported Saslaw telling dozen lawmakers gathered with him around a conference table.
Then, according to The AP, Saslaw turned to the transportation secretary and said, ““I suggest you go back and find the goddamn money or tell the governor he ain't going to have a budget.”
This $700 million to offset roadway tolls to pay for a metro line to the Dulles International Airport has been the lynchpin to the Democrats' desired spending plan.
The Senate has 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans, meaning that at least one Democrat has to vote in favor of the budget for it to pass.
The budget will likely head for a floor vote on April 17.
The Roanoke Times editorial board said that the latest budgets shows that state lawmakers once again expect a bailout from local taxpayers.
Word from Richmond is that Senate and House budget negotiators are nearly finished working out the finer details for Virginia's biennial budget. A few things might change here or there, but one thing is nearly certain: The commonwealth will again pick the pockets of its localities.
It's called "aid to localities," a term that actually means "aid from localities." It allows the General Assembly to bill your city or county for millions of dollars so that lawmakers can balance the state budget without raising taxes. It's sort of like the schoolyard bully who exacts a dime each off a dozen kids. Pilfered of some of their lunch money, the victims can do without the noontime repast or ask Mom and Dad to increase their daily lunch allowance by a dime.
The schoolyard bully can be stopped. Lawmakers? Not so much.
* The Washington Post editorial board weighed in on the controversy surrounding Councilman Marion Barry’s remark criticizing the Asian community in Ward 8, writing that his racist remarks should not get a pass.
Over the years, Marion Barry has said and done so many questionable things that the city whose politics he long dominated has become inured to his behavior. But his racist remarks this week about Asian Americans — and his oblivious response — are too ugly to ignore. On Tuesday Ward 8 Democrats looked past his failings to nominate him to a third consecutive term on the D.C. Council, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the District and its political leaders should excuse his behavior.
* At this point, it’s a known fact that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is less than supportive of Mitt Romney.
But even though Romney is the likely GOP nominee, Cuccinelli is still not warming up to the former Massachusetts governor.
The Daily Caller asked Cuccinelli how the GOP is set to nominate the only other person than President Obama to sign an individual health insurance mandate into law.
Cuccinelli said he wasn’t sure how to answer, but then added, “He just outlasted everybody else up to this point,”
[Rick] Santorum’s not out yet, but the math is looking pretty ugly for him.”
He added that Romney became the front-runner by default as all the other candidates were defeated one at a time.
Really, I don’t know if he chose all of it, but he had a wonderful course of divide and conquer,” Cuccinelli told TheDC. “I mean it was really one person at a time, which turned out to be, by and large, fairly manageable for him.”
“I will say, I don’t think anybody really doubts his commitment to signing a repeal bill if it gets to his desk, so I don’t think that creates a real problem, but it is surprising, when the biggest issue of 2010 for Republicans taking so many seats in the House was the health care issue, to see the presidential race work out the way it has.”
The Baltimore Sun has an article about the large payouts Maryland lobbyists are reaping as high-stake bills to expand gambling in the state are still being settled.
Many casino interests have hired some of the state’s top lobbyists—including the 10 highest-paid, according to Sun—to help advance, shape or kill the bill.
"I've never seen anything like it before," said Del. Frank Turner, a Howard County Democrat who chairs the House subcommittee overseeing the bill, which would allow table games and a sixth casino in the state. "I can't think of a single lobbyist who is not involved with it."
Maryland Senators submitted a budget comprise on Thursday, potentially ending a budget stalemate that has taken shape in Annapolis the last few weeks.
The proposal would raise more than $300 million for the next fiscal year, but would not increase taxes for anyone making $100,000 or less. Instead, it would raise income tax rates higher for people who make more than that.
The compromise also includes some reductions in income tax exemptions.
The legislation session is set to adjourn on Monday and a vote is expected to come before then.