Here is Delegate Scott Lingamfelter‘s report on the General Assembly.
Session Update: House Passes Fiscally Sound Budget
–Senate Democrats Block Budget–
It was a good day yesterday in the House of Delegates where we passed a fiscally conservative budget (79-21) that we will now send to the Senate for consideration. As I reported to you earlier this week when the Appropriations Committee I serve on moved the bill to the floor of the House, this budget keeps overall spending at 2008 levels, funds our core responsibilities, and makes major headway to addressing two areas I care about a lot. The House budget is a structurally, substantively and fiscally responsible plan and puts major funding toward transportation, funds higher education to record levels in decades, puts major funding toward K-12 education, bolsters the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), and strengthens the social safety net for the most vulnerable among our citizens.
This budget includes strategic reserves in light of ongoing economic uncertainty, specifically $300 million for the Rainy Day Fund, $50 million for the Federal Action Contingency Trust (FACT) Fund and $42.2 million for a secondary revenue reserve to protect against downward revisions to the fiscal year 2013 revenue forecast. These prudent steps will protect the Commonwealth from future economic difficulties, federal spending reductions, and will solidify the integrity of our triple-AAA bond rating.
Significantly, 1/3 of House Democrats voted with the Republican Majority (79-21) to pass this budget. But it was not without the usual political shenanigans by liberal Democrats to load the budget up with spending that exceeds our revenues. Sadly, 21 of them voted against the Governor’s amendment to put an additional $96 million toward highway maintenance from the sales tax you are already sending to Richmond. Their solution is, as usual, more and higher taxes. Our solution is to put what you are already paying to use on priorities you want, including fixing our roads. In fact, of the Democrats who voted to reduce funding for road maintenance to put to other social programs, 12 of them were from Northern Virginia. Go figure.
So what’s next? We sent our budget to the Senate where they will now consider it. Unfortunately, the Senate has not sent us their budget to consider as Senate Democrats stonewalled any effort to actually pass a Senate Budget, defeating it by not providing a 21st vote (which is needed to pass a budget in the 40-seat Senate). That said, I can tell you we had a glimpse of what the Senate wants and their budget is loaded with new debt and more taxes, something the Democrats love but, since they are angry that they didn’t get the committee assignments they wanted, they have decided to hold Virginia’s budget hostage.
I will keep you updated on where we are in the process and hopefully, I can report early next week that the budget conferees have sat down, rolled up their sleeves, and are busy resolving their differences. This will be tough work, because Democrats in the Senate are still angry that they are no longer in charge there and are inclined to vote against any budget that Republicans propose. So let’s hope they put governance above partisan bickering. Here’s hoping, anyway.
Sic Semper Tyrannis,