Monday, February 22, 2010

Common sense cut out of budget

It could have been worse.

Both houses of the General Assembly unveiled drafts of their budgets Sunday. They’re a little different, but probably not enough for anyone to go to war over. They each differ somewhat from Gov. Bob McDonnell’s belatedly revealed suggestions, but they each head in the same direction.

That’s because, like McDonnell, the legislators, Democrats and Republicans alike, are expert politicians. They know how to read election returns. Some of them don’t know much else.

And looking at last fall’s election returns, it’s pretty clear that Virginia voters are in no mood to be magnanimous. We aren’t interested in tax increases. We aren’t interested in what’s best for our state or our communities. We’re scared for our jobs, we’re worried about the economy and we want our leaders to pander to those fears.

There’s no question that cutting $400 million (the Senate), $600 million (the House) or $700 million (the governor) from K-12 public education while retaining the $950 million in car tax “relief”, which for the vast majority of people in Virginia amount to less than $1 per day, is shortsighted and selfish.

The governor and the legislators looked at the voters of Virginia and decided that yes, that’s just how shortsighted and selfish we are.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Can this country be governed?

We the people have lost another one.

The big money boys have scuttled health care reform. The citizens of the United States will not have the same access to health care enjoyed by the citizens of every other civilized country in the world. We’re the richest, most powerful nation on earth. We can accomplish anything we set our minds to, yet we can’t do this simple thing for our people.


Because the lobbyists who keep Washington, D.C.’s money wheel turning don’t want it. So they killed it.

And they killed it in exactly the same way that they did in 1993, the malicious stirred up the ignorant with a pack of well-funded lies.

So “Obamacare” meets the same fate as “Hillarycare.”

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Hiding out in the Governor’s Mansion

There’s something odd going on in Richmond.

It’s a budget year and there’s a process the state normally goes through to reach a balanced budget.

In a gubernatorial election year that process starts with a proposal by the outgoing governor.

Gov. Tim Kaine did his part, although nobody liked his contribution. He proposed a budget with more than $2 billion in cuts and more than $1 billion in tax increases to fill a hole in the next biennial budget that may be as big as $4.4 billion.

With Republican in firm control in the House and “No Tax Increases” Bob McDonnell newly installed in the Governor’s Mansion, the tax hike was quickly disposed of.

But that’s where the process has broken down. Because the next step in the process should be budget amendments submitted by the new governor to change the old governor’s budget.

While McDonnell has submitted a few amendments to balance new spending programs he’s proposed – largely economic development measures – he has not addressed the large cuts that need to be made to balance the budget. Even if McDonnell were to accept all of Kaine’s cuts – and the new governor has said he disagrees with some, including cuts in public safety, higher education and state employee retirement contributions – he needs to make nearly $2 billion in cuts. If he restores any of Kaine’s cuts, he’ll need to make even deeper cuts.

But the governor has not submitted any budget amendments to propose those cuts.

And recent comments by his press secretary suggest that he may not.

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