Monthly Archives: April 2004

Fairfax Schools Outlines What If

Here’s a press release today from Fairfax County Public Schools about potential cuts in light of the state’s budget impasse and county supervisors’ decision not to fund FCPS’s revenue request.

Virginia News

The Augusta Free Press says “Aside from Gov. Mark Warner, Democrats have been eerily silent on the budget impasse.”

But the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports

“Two Democratic senators, Linda T. Puller of Fairfax, a Warner confidante, and attorney general hopeful R. Creigh Deeds of Bath, said the governor is pressing the 16-member caucus to side with the maverick Republican delegates.

“We’re getting a lot of pressure from the governor to cave,” said Puller, noting that Senate Democrats are holding out for, at a minimum, full funding of the state’s $1 billion-a-year obligation to local school systems.

And the Virginia Pilot writes:

The chamber’s 24-member Republican majority is split. Led by Chichester, most of the GOP is seeking a compromise of $1 billion in increases in sales and cigarette taxes. About six or seven Republicans, however, have vowed to vote against any hike.

Conversely, most, if not all, of the 16 Democrats are refusing to go below about $1.6 billion in new levies. “We don’t want to shortchange colleges, public schools and mental health services,” said Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw ,” D-Fairfax.

Several Democrats predicted all 16 would vote as a bloc. “We’re very solid,” said Sen. R. Edward Houck, D-Spotsylvania….

“We’re convinced that the needs of the state are so great that we will not have done our jobs if we don’t come out of this session with substantially more money than the House is offering,” said Sen. Patricia S. Ticer, D-Alexandria.

The Washington Post writes this morning:

Some political adversaries say Warner’s tendency to tweak bills rather than veto them reveals a wishy-washy leader who attempts to have it both ways on controversial subjects. His supporters say his actions are those of a centrist businessman who remains uncomfortable with overly partisan positions.

Quotes of the Day:
“I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”
–The late Sen. Robert Kennedy

“I keep talking to senators of both parties and telling them to lower their expectations.”
–Gov. Mark Warner

“I knew Bobby Kennedy. Bobby Kennedy was a friend of mine. You’re no Bobby Kennedy.”
–The late Sen. Lloyd Bensten

Correction: The quote by Lloyd Bensten above was actually said of President John Kennedy, not his brother Bobby. Lesson learned: When “Googling” to fact check, one may find others as mistaken as the Googler.

Well, at least Del. Athey has the courage of other people’s convictions.

Del. Clifford L. “Clay” Athey Jr., R-Front Royal, who is in his first term, said he doesn’t think he would have voted for the no-car-tax plan if he was in office in 1998 because it didn’t include an alternate stream of funding.

But if the Senate puts a cap or rollback into the budget, Athey said he still would not vote for it.

“I believe there is some validity to saying the car tax, those reimbursements, are draining the state economy,” Athey said. “But we inherit both good things that our predecessors did, and the bad things.”

Could Del. Bobby Orrock come around?

Del. Bobby Orrock, R-Caroline, originally voted against the bill. He said yesterday, however, that if the Senate sends the Parrish bill back in the same form it was introduced–when it raised $972 million in new revenues–he would vote for it.

“I would support that if that’s what it takes to get us out of here,” Orrock said.

He also supports capping car-tax payments, but doesn’t like the idea of a local-option sales tax.

Here’s what the Assembly did yesterday on Warner’s bill vetoes and amendments.

How the Senate and the House voted on the civil union amendments and how the House voted on the 21-day rule. (The Senate unanimously upheld Warner’s amendment.)

“Far better for Virginia than fostering the tobacco industry would be weaning the state from economic reliance on it.”
Roanoke Times

“It needs to be said,” yes, but differently.

Don’t tread on me.

We outnumbered them

Parrish-demo-PC.JPGThe Prince William Area Young Republicans, the Prince William Taxpayers Alliance and the Virginia Club for Growth planned to march on Manassas Delegate Harry Parrish’s place of business in old town Manassas last evening to protest his being among the Seditious 17 that broke ranks with the GOP leadership to support a bill raising taxes, modest though it may be. So proponents of greater investment – and yes higher taxes to pay for it – planned a counter demonstration and won the numbers battle by about 35 – 20.

Read More…

Virginia News

Negotiators for the “House 17” and the Senate leadership are still talking about a compromise tax bill, while Gov. Mark Warner indicates he wants it at $1 billion in new taxes, just about where he first proposed and sure to make Senate Democrats feel they’re left hanging.

“I think we’re going to see some movement,” the governor said on his monthly radio call-in show broadcast from WTOP radio in Washington. “I think we’re going to end up around that billion-dollar figure.”

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports a local option sales tax increase is also on the table.

Proposals to freeze the car –tax reimbursement is a “non-starter,” according to Del. Brian Moran (D- Alexandria) and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, “noting that the car-tax program means dollars for Northern Virginians.”

But some Senators says a compromise isn’t nigh and that the car-tax is “poison.”

“The car tax repeal is the poison to the state budget right now. I would be agreeable to try to minimize the poison effect that it’s having on our state budget and our ability to fund core services. If we do not address the car-tax dilemma, then we’re going to be right back in this same dilemma next year, the next biennium. The future of the car tax just continues to grow and grow and grow and grow, and it really thwarts our efforts to meet funding for core services.”

-Sen. Edd Houck (D-Frederickburg)

One report says the costs of the car tax is growing at a rate of $150 a year, while the Roanoke Times editorial page says it’s only $50 million a year.

No wonder a compromise is so hard. We seem to disagree on the basic numbers. (See yesterday’s post.)

Paul Goldman has another op-ed piece that can be boiled down to these four paragraphs:

Today, the whole debate over the tax issue is symptomatic of a deeper issue.

Our leaders presume that they cannot level with the people, for they feel the people are not to be trusted at election time to make the right decision.

So they justify not telling the truth on taxes as a necessary evil.

And they justify breaking their no-tax pledges as another necessary evil.

Unfortunately, the Augusta Free Press editors allow him to go on for over 1400 words, making him the Henry Kissinger of Virginia op-eds, and taxing the readers’ ability to stay with him. Get me re-write.

Here’s why we need a change in Virginia’s “21-day” rule:

Prince William, that supposed bedrock of conservatism, passed a budget that increases spending 11.4%. (Scroll down the news round-up.)

The headline doesn’t jive with the story: Where’s the improvement?

Gov. Warner’s opponent in 2006 is in trouble with his playmates.

Odds ‘n Ends

In tough times, older folks read about the news, but youngsters are still leaving the first draft of history behind.

That’s because “[m]an, the news from Iraq is, like, a major bummer.”

Which may explain why Bush is afraid of young voters?

Maybe the kids should be subjected to the “science in political science,” inspired by Rod Serling, Alfred Hitchcock and Frankenstein.

Or maybe (cue ominous music) the draft.

Bully for the CJR Campaign Desk. I’ve often wondered how Tim Russert got where he is.

Virginia News

Can reporters get their numbers straight?

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports the House tax bill raises $691 million. The Washington Times agrees.

But an AP story appearing on the RTD web site says it’s $742 million. So does The Post.

Somebody’s got to be wrong, or at least imprecise.

The AP story also reports that “[a]ccording to interviews with sources close to the discussions, the idea that generated the most interest is freezing state reimbursements to cities and counties for revenue they lose from the 1998 law cutting the local tax on personal cars and pickup trucks.”

That worries me. It gives conservatives a chance to dust off their old “No Car Tax” signs and run again on that idea in 2005.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch likes the local sales tax option. So do I.

Sen. Bill Wampler (R-Bristol) thinks the hang-up is funding for education.

Give Del. Phil Hamilton (R-Newport News) credit for his tenacity. The Hampton Daily Press reports that he “wants the General Assembly to study the various credits, exemptions and deductions that have been added to the tax code over decades. Before lawmakers decide to raise taxes, they should first decide if all the breaks are justified.”

The House leadership jumped on this idea without studying its impact either on revenues or business development. Bu that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. Businesses are forever threatening to move elsewhere every time a tax increase on them is considered.

The Hampton Roads Daily Press provides a history lesson:

For those with short memories, in 1997 Jim Gilmore rode the slogan “no car tax” right into the governor’s mansion, promising that it would never cost more than $620 million a year to repeal the tax.

Two months after Election Day, however, Gilmore shrugged his shoulders, grinned and announced that car tax repeal was going to cost a lot more.

That unsettled the legislature, which had to approve the deal. So the following month, Gilmore appeared before a Richmond gathering of Virginia local officials and promised that, “In the event that the state’s tax revenues fail to grow sufficiently to fund the phase-in schedule set out in the plan, the legislation would freeze the phase-in at the previous year’s level until the economy improves.”

The legislature believed him, and the car tax repeal debacle was off to the races.

Within two years, with the economy failing, Gilmore decided he didn’t really care (1) how much the car tax repeal cost or (2) what he said earlier about the economy or revenue growth driving the cut. He was going to push the repeal further no matter what.

And here we are today, at the end of the parade with a broom.

VP Dick Cheney raises money for 9th Congressional district challenger, while GOP candidate for the state’s attorney general collects $250,000.

Child molester gets out of jail only to be incarcerated again before he ever leaves.

ODU takes the environment seriously.

You would think the Dems. lost the elections in Fairfax County, but they are fearful of James Parmelee. By the way, he’s quoted again in this Lisa Rein story . That marks 22 times she’s quoted him in a story since Jan. 2002 and 106 times he’s been quoted in a Post story during that time. It’s The Post’s obligatory “balance” quote when it’s questionable whom he actually represents.

The fights are getting uglier in Loudoun County, where a supervisor who didn’t like the county staff report on public utilities threatened to fire them. Which, of course, he hasn’t the authority to do, but that didn’t stop the bluster.

Bridgewater losing jobs.

Virginia News

Can we recall lawmakers? Well, if they’ve “been incompetent in carrying out official duties.” Would not passing a budget count?

Higher ed folks, Does this sound right?: “[Gov. Mark Warner] said Virginia invests $9,100 for every undergraduate at UVa, while Maryland spends $16,000 per Terrapin at the University of Maryland, North Carolina spends $18,000 a Heel and Michigan chips in $19,000 a Wolverine.”

Paul Goldman. God bless him. He’s almost as quixotic as I am.

Is Virginia like California or is Warner like Reagan?

Warner VP? Not a chance.

Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf (R-10th) has an opponent.

Such a deal!

Can’ find a state trooper when you need him? He’ll be here, while teachers are here.

Virginia News: Weekend Edition

The Washington Post is reporting that Gov. Warner seems to be pressuring the Senate to accept the House’s bill for tax reform, or at least no tax increase raising more than $1 billion.

The Post quotes Warner as saying he hopes the Senate “will honor the framework of the House proposal.”

Unfortunately, other progressive leaders seem ready to fold ‘em. There’s no more tireless advocate for our schools than Jean Bankos, president of the Virginia Education Association.

“I’d say I am extremely disappointed, but we’ll live to fight another day. If we can’t get there in this biennium, we can’t get there. We get as close to it as we possibly can and, in the end, hope that we have stemmed the tide of folks who think you can provide adequate quality education without having to pay for it.”

Stemmed the tide, but not turned it. I’m not sure why anyone would think we’d have a better chance next session, in an election year for the House of Delegates.

Another Post article states:

Politicians and activists still will be talking about this session during the 2005 election campaign. Virginia will elect a governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. All 100 seats in the House will be on the ballot as well. Tax opponents have threatened to challenge pro-tax GOP delegates in primaries.

True, but moderate GOPers have made noises about challenging conservatives. My favorite is the GOP treasurer of Virginia beach who has taken out an ad to recruit moderates.

Del. Bobby Orrock, R-Caroline, is not one of the “mavericks” who voted for the tax hike but he did vote to allow Fredericksburg localities to impose an additional gas tax. What happened to his no-tax hike stand?

Even the conservative editorial page of the Richmond Times Dispatch is squirming about the car tax cut, though they can’t bring themselves to say it’s been a disaster,

Good backgrounder on the two delegates that forged the House compromise bill in the Virginian Pilot. Seems both have been known to raise taxes locally.

Del. S. Chris Jones was a neighbor of former Gov. Mills Godwin, who pushed through the first sales tax in Virginia. Said Jones: “Today, he’d be a tax and spender, I guess, but 40 years later he’s called a visionary.”


I wonder if the Dems can just call in their votes?

Only one of the 140 state legislators has asked to be removed from the Commonwealth Commonsense email list: Del. Chuck Hogan (R-Halifax). Here are two Hogan quotes about the Senate in Friday’s Gazette Virginian:

“I hope I’m wrong, but I think we’re dealing with some people who are very entrenched and have shown no indication they’re willing to compromise the least little bit.

“We offered the compromise bill with the best of intentions, but to go forward in a spirit of compromise when the Senate is unwilling to compromise is an exercise in futility.”

Earth to Hogan: The Senate has already knocked off $1.5 billion off its original bill and has indicated it will scuttle the income tax reform.

So until Del. Hogan demonstrates he’s learned some commonsense, I’ll leave him on the mailing list. I figure our representatives (even if they’re not in our district) don’t get to say who they hear from.

Gov. Warner has amended the same-sex marriage bill, but he was quick to point out that he’s against gay marriages.

I read this morning that Sen. John Kerry was quick to agree with President Bush’s tone deaf decision to support Israel’s keeping some of the West Bank settlements. Maybe Warner should be Kerry’s running mate.

Oh, the Virginian Pilot has it out for Freshman Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R-Woodbridge), aka as the “28-year-old neophyte, whose life experience consists largely of creating political Web sites” who is “wet behind the ears” and who “substitutes platitudes for critical thought” and who “sophomorically implies….”

I just love it.