In the budget dispute, will Democrats be “pivotal”?

Or are they on the wrong side of the limb?

Gov. Mark Warner doesn’t want the eventual Senate bill to go to conference committee.

On his radio talk show on WRVA in Richmond, Warner also said he wants a budget approved so he can talk about something else: “We’ll be talking about that we have a budget, that we’ve solved our state’s finances, that we can get back to things like higher ed, transportation and the social hot button issues.”

Yet, “I would still urge that transportation be part of the final compromise,” he said. “But I’ve got to be honest with the caller. There’s not a lot of discussion between the negotiators at this point about transportation.”

Nor is there much in the House budget for higher ed. We can talk about something else but we won’t have any money to do anything about it, except count the potholes on I-95.

In a column in the Hampton Roads Daily Press, a couple of staffers at Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform write about the no new tax pledge that they have lawmakers sign.

The pledge is a commitment made to the people of the candidate’s or incumbent’s district and state. It is a definitive statement of those standing for election or in office of who or what will be the priority for the duration of their tenure.

Will the official vote for the big-spending interests or will he or she vote for the hard-working families and businesses that pay the taxes?

We can disagree about taxes, but framing it as “big spending interests” and “hard-working families” is disingenuous.

Continuing, they write:

Says California assemblyman Ray Haynes: “I signed the taxpayer protection pledge for two reasons: a) to announce to the world my intention to vote against all tax increases all the time; and b) to grant to any who may wish a public promise to which I would be accountable.”

As [such] statements by pledge signers clearly show, they are not only aware of the accountability side of the pledge; this factor is part of the reason for which they sign the pledge. Thus, they do not feel handcuffed by having signed the pledge, but in fact freed from certain pressures. Pledge signers are also informed about the fact that the pledge binds them to their commitment to their constituents not only for the election year, but for the duration of their tenure in the body to which they were elected.

So for the rest of their political careers they will never raise taxes. Something about consistency and hobgoblins comes to mind. Do we really want politicians who are so dogmatic that they envision no circumstance in their political life under which they may have a different view? About the only “pressure” I can see that they are “freed from” is the pressure to think.

Here’s a fix for school budget shortfalls: Charge students.

$20 per year for middle and high school students involved in sports and other after-school activities. The money would help offset coach stipends and Virginia High School League fees.

Also under consideration is a $4,000 tuition rate for each foreign exchange student. Right now, they pay nothing.

The plan also calls for increasing the student parking fee from $40 to $60, the “behind-the-wheel” driver’s education cost from $115 to $200 and a high school computer supplies fee from $5 to $10.

Those who attend the Regional Alternative High School–a program for area students who may have been expelled–could also start paying $35 a day in tuition.

The Washington Post calls the new Board of Supervisors “Loudoun-Wreckers.”

Quotes of the Day
“The Democrats are in play, buddy,” Moran said. “It feels good. I could get used to this.”
-Del. Brian Moran (D-Alexandria)

saslaw“We can’t, at least from my standpoint, repeal the estate tax on the one hand and impose the sales tax, which falls heaviest on the low-end people, without providing some other form of equity.”
-Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax)