VA Senator Steve Martin just issued an update on Wednesday describing what appears to be a fairly blatant attempt by VA state senators to stonewall/block the state government from doing business on a number of fronts. Specifically,
My reports have been focused on policy and I will continue that mode, even though this particular piece may seem otherwise. Today, I write concerning a barrier to addressing important policy matters.
Since the election results in November, my Democrat colleagues in the Senate have made no effort to hide their displeasure with having lost the majority. So much so that on the day before this session started, they let us know they had made a decision, in their caucus, that if the Republicans organized as a majority they would not vote for anything that required 21 Senators’ support for passage. Such cases include budgets, revenue bills, and judgeships.
To us, that came across as a threat of action that was not in the Commonwealth’s or their respective areas’ best interests. We organized as the majority we are, with the Lieutenant Governor’s support.
As they approached their first vote against the Senate budget, in committee, their leadership sent a letter to the Governor saying their plans to vote in block against the budget was in no way partisan, but for policy reasons. Yet, within a day or two of transmitting that letter, they hand-delivered a letter to the Majority Leader with their list of demands on the organization of the Senate and followed through on their initial threat to vote no on the budget. Since so much of what is in the budget is at their request, I assume their threat also means ‘no matter what the budget has in it.‘
In case you missed it earlier in the session, the Senate Democrats voted in block to prevent the election of any judge other than those being re-elected to the bench. That was the first follow through on their threat, and if they stay the course it will cause us to fall short on our responsibility to elect the best qualified judges for the courts around the Commonwealth. They have even voted in block against a bill they introduced and voted for, last year.
During what should be a time of bipartisan effort on the budget – including ways to create jobs and ensure Virginia citizens are able to provide for their families – the Senate Democrat Caucus has chosen, when voting in block, to act out of bruised egos and anger at their political defeat rather than in the best interest of the Commonwealth. In so doing, it appears the Democrats are wielding the only weapon they think they have. But, the 2011 elections have passed. It is time now to govern. The voting public will hold us accountable in the next election. That will be the time to determine control of the Senate. Until then, let’s address the policy and budget concerns in front of us.
Republicans voted against the budget bills in the 2008 Session. However, those block votes were in response to specific policy issues, and not at all relating to politics. Specifically, my Republican colleagues and I objected to the excessive use of debt (through VRS), unrealistic revenue projections (concerns that proved to be very accurate), additional funding for Pre-K programs when the existing funding was not being used, and an unconstitutional transfer of Literary Funds from use for public education.
It’s time to get past the political argument and on to policy matters.
Our state government meets for only a very narrow window during the year to get things done. Let’s hope that state business is not being delayed for purely political gamesmanship. You can contact your senator to tell him/her to get to work immediately and to not squander the valuable general assembly session time.
After seeing the rules broken in the senate last year, I think it’s time that we demand adult behavior from our representatives.