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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sen. Marsden's Richmond Diary: The 2012 state budget

In this edition of Sen. Dave Marsden’s periodic reports from Richmond, he explains why the Virginia General Assembly has so far failed to pass a budget. 

There has been much written this past week about Democrats voting down the Senate and House budgets. The Washington Post and other writers seem to think that this is the end of the world as we know it. Under both Mark Warner and Time Kaine we had budgets that were not completed until June and May respectively. Why? Because those budgets did not accomplish what many members of the General Assembly, both Republican and Democrat, wanted for the people they represent.

So why did we vote against the budgets at this stage of the process? The answer is twofold.

First, Virginia chose an evenly split Senate, 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans. The Senate budget is better than the House budget for my constituents, but better does not mean good. I was elected to fight for things that my constituents elected me to stand for.

To this end, I have used the only leverage I have, which is the budget, to do that which I was hired to do. Did you want someone to go to Richmond and roll over and play dead? This is our state and I will not stop fighting for a budget that will strengthen our economy, create jobs, and take care of our most vulnerable citizens. These budgets fall short.

I have worked closely and productively with Republicans on myriad issues this year. But this  budget would take 4,500 seniors off Medicaid, give $25 million in private school vouchers to families making 70K a year, and transfer general funds from schools to transportation.

What upsets me even more is that the governor reneged on a promise to introduce a sustainable source of transportation funding into the budget. I was told that if I voted for his transportation bond acceleration package last year he would solve our long-term transportation funding problem. He did zero. (By the way, when his representative asked what transportation earmark I wanted for my district to get my vote I told him NO! I am not going to circumvent the lawful role of the Commonwealth Transportation Board in distributing transportation funds. Politics should not enter into those decisions. Earmarks are wrong!)

Second, if Republicans had observed the existing rules of the Senate when we convened this session, they would have been in charge and we would have had some level of parity with them as we are evenly split. They are in charge because the lieutenant governor can break the tie votes. I understand that. But with parity, we would have been in position on committees to kill the right-wing bills that have made Virginia a national laughingstock and severely damaged our image. Best state for business? not for long. Best-managed state? .that’s heading south. Best state to raise a child for future success and happiness? That’s soon to be a memory if we keep pulling resources out of schools.

Yes, it was hard to be taken off committees as parity was written out of the rules we honored when we were in charge. But to think we are killing the budget out of petulance is ridiculous. Everyone uses the rules to fight for what they believe in. That is all we are doing.


  1. What do we pay this clown to do? Oh yeah that rights....try to rename foreign bodies of water in textbooks.

  2. Senator Marsden is doing exactly what we elected him to do--represent us!!! Our schools are bursting at the seams and our Governor and his minions want to take money away from education and the general fund? We spend our lives in cars, what kind of quality of life is that? We need transportation funds for mass transportation and to maintain the roads we have!! What are these clowns in Richmond doing--they are spending their time trying to regulate women's bodies and health issues and making sure that children in agencies are not allowed to be cared for and adopted by loving, caring individuals (do they think gay people are not humans?). They want to make sure that children stay in the system until they are too old for it and then kick them out to fend for themselves knowing that nobody ever really cared about them. That's really great for the future of Virginia.

    Thank you Senator Marsden for using whatever power or means you have to protect your consituents!!! Everyone I know applauds you.

  3. Oh puh-leeese. Your utopian socialist mass transit ideas only work close in to town. Rolling back the Democratic lunacy of the past years is is what they are doing in Richmond. Respect for the unborn creates respect for all human persons, from young to old. Dave strikes me as a common sense guy the Republicans can deal with - not a liberal idiot - so you'll see him come around and strike a deal with the Republicans. That's why VA works and other states don't - no Nancy Pelosi types are tolerated.

  4. As I see it, the only idiots around are Republicans who spend more time regulating morality and not what happens to our State.

    A great deal of tax revenue for this State comes from Northern Virginia, yet the quality of life is on decline, thanks to the over-development that is approved in Richmond.