Senate Dems vote again to block state budget

The message being sent by State Senate Democrats is clear: Work with us, or else.

“This is nothing new. Four years ago, every single Republican voted against the budget. In 2004 the Republicans held up the budget until May. In 2007 the Republicans held up the budget until June. We still have four months to go,” said Sen. Richard L. Saslaw, D-Fairfax, after a 20-19 party-line vote on Wednesday killed the budget that passed the Republican-majority House of Delegates earlier this year.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a member of the House of Delegates in 2004 when it was Republicans that held up a budget that had been championed by Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, called today’s move by Democrats to do what the GOP has done in the recent past “unprecedented.”

“Senate Democrats have repeatedly made clear that their objections to the budget are not based on policy, but politics. They want more seats on committees and more power. They appear willing to jeopardize the timely payment of the salaries of our teachers and police officers, the services our senior citizens depend upon, the resources our universities need to operate, the budgets of local governments, the funding for our prisons and hospitals, and the entire state budget to gain more power. They have put political goals of 20 individuals ahead of the collective policy needs of 8 million Virginians,” McDonnell said in a statement.

House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford, echoed the GOP party line about the issue for Democrats being committee assignments in a statement, saying it is “frustrating” for House Republicans who worked hard to craft a state budget for the 2012-2014 biennium “to see our hard work rejected in the Senate.”

“Even more distressing is the reality that Senate Democrats did not reject the Senate and House budgets based on policy. Rather, Senate Democrats are making a political power play over committee assignments,” Howell said.

Fairfax Democratic Sen. Janet Howell said the issue is about a “Republican power grab” that has made national headlines with legislation enforcing a narrow social-conservative agenda and a budget cutting spending on public education and other core state-government services.

“Things are going awry in the Virginia Senate. The results of the Republican power grab is clear: in a mere six weeks Virginia is becoming a national joke. Women’s rights are being trampled. Voting rights are being suppressed. And guns are going to be available in unlimited numbers. The budget does not reflect my priorities. Education spending is far too low. Investments in health care are inadequate. And there is no additional funding for Phase II of Dulles Metrorail,” Howell said.

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