Governor-elect Bob McDonnell

Virginia's Budget Process

Yesterday, Governor-elect Bob McDonnell (see his statement) urged a revamping of Virginia's budget process, one as peculiar as the one-term gubernatorial limit (Washington Times), keeping a campaign promise he and Lt. Governor Bill Bolling made in September. As it is now, the Old Dominion's two-year budget is proposed by the governor in even years, meaning the lame duck outgoing governor proposes one while the incoming governor is still moving furniture into the executive mansion. It's up to the new guy and the General Assembly to amend it, while the old guy laughs at them stumbling all over themselves (Richmond Times-Dispatch). It also means a governor only has one opportunity to thoroughly shape fiscal policy and spending priorities during his one term — the two year budget beginning with the second even year of his term (Washington Examiner). So, Governor-elect McDonnell proposes to move the governor's budget submission to odd number years (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). Not a bad idea. He even has Governor Tim Kaine's support (whose outgoing, tax-increase laden budget is a great impetus for this change) as well as that of key lawmakers, and it was recommended as far back as 2002 from the Wilder Commission that studied ways to improve efficiency in state government. 

But another idea has floated through Capitol Square in recent years: Keep the even year cycle, but let the new governor do the proposing. To give him time, move the legislative session back a month or two. That way, he can propose two full budgets and the next governor can start with a clean slate. Under the odd year proposal, a new governor would take office in the middle of a already adopted two-year budget (better than the current system) and could propose amendments. But why not have the governor do what he was elected to do and have an impact the entire four year term? Besides, starting the legislative session in January can be such a bummer coming off the holiday season. Never does such good cheer turn to agony so fast.

Gov's mansion

Bob McDonnell will hardly have moved in before he has to start tearing up Governor Tim Kaine's proposed lame duck budget.

No Change In State Senate?

Rumors have been swirling since Election night that Governor-elect Bob McDonnell was seeking to entice a Senate Democrat to take an appointment in his administration, opening an opportunity for a Republican perhaps winning the resulting open Senate seat, thus ending Democrat control of the Senate, making that chamber 20-20. That would lead to power sharing, new committee make up and an entirely new political dynamic in Richmond. Of course, adding to the intrigue are two state Senate special elections that will not take place until January 12 — the 37th district seat that Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli will vacate and the 8th district, where newly elected Virginia Beach sheriff Ken Stolle will leave his seat.

At his press conference today announcing several new cabinet secretaries, the Governor-elect stated that he would complete his appointment of cabinet secretaries the first week of January. If that's the case, then the appointments will be done prior to the January 12 special elections.

It would be very risky for the Governor to appoint a Democrat to his cabinet hoping to win the seat, and then potentially losing either the 8th or the 37th, leaving McDonnell and the Republicans right where they started. Risky, but not impossible of course.

So, does the one line Governor-elect McDonnell dropped today end the possibility of a change in the Senate? Or are there other administration opportunities that could be available? Just one of the more intriguing questions revolving around the new administration.

Stay tuned.

Virginia News Stand: December 14, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations Budget, Administrations In Transition

The GOP and the outgoing Kaine administration are going at each other over the budget he is soon to submit. It is very likely to include tax increases and some disturbing social policies directly in contrast to what voters expect given the overwhelming conservative victory last November. So, why do one anyway? The law, for one. Governor Tim Kaine, still is the governor until mid-January and the budget must be submitted before then. A case for budget making reform? One was made last year in the General Assembly, regarding the cycle and a new governor's ability to shape state spending his first year. It went nowhere. Which often is the seal of a good, common sense bill. Maybe this year. 

The other theme the media seems to have a preoccupation over is the makeup of Governor-elect Bob McDonnell's transition team. Surprise! Business people and supporters are in it! 

News:

Kaine to force tough choices on McDonnell (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

GOP leaders urge Kaine not to raise taxes for budget (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Kaine, GOP leaders fued over budget (Washington Times)

Business gets big role in McDonnell transition (Washington Times)

McDonnell's advisers (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

When part-time lawmakers land full-time government jobs, pensions soar (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Payday lenders try to get high interest rates through a loophole (The Daily Press)

State delegate joins flap over U.S. flag (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Primary to determine GOP’s 2010 5th District candidate (Danville Register & Bee)

Analysis:

McDonnell's advisors a peek into the future (Jeff Schapiro/Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Dave Marsden Now Is A Low Tax Guy?

It may be December, and it may be a one month campaign, but it's already a hot one in the 37th Senate District special election (to be held January 12) to fill the seat of Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli. It was guaranteed to be so from the beginning: The Dems think the seat belongs to them because of they way Fairfax County has trended recently. As the number one targeted Republican in 2007, they thought they had Cuccinelli dead in their sights, but he escaped with a victory of less than 100 votes. (Now, he's attorney general, surely to endless liberal heartburn, mental anguish, knashing of teeth and sleepless nights.) But a Democrat victory now would be a welcome buttress to its current one seat firewall against GOP policy initiatives.

However, the climate is much different now. The GOP did very well in Fairfax in November and has momentum and the weight of landslide victors Governor-elect Bob McDonnell and re-elected Lt. Governor Bill Bolling as well as Cuccinelli behind its nominee, Stephen Hunt. Hunt has been elected county wide before (to the Fairfax County School Board), while the best the Demscould come up with is Delegate Dave Marsden (D-41, Fairfax), who barely won re-election in November to his House seat, which partially overlaps the Senate district.

But it's not only a matter of a changed political atmosphere, but also Marsden's residency, at least for now. He doesn't live in the district, but a couple of weeks ago took up in a room in a friend's house that is in the district (see Washington Times).

But political climate and residency aren't the only things that have changed. Now, Delegate Marsden claims to be a low-tax guy. Talk about reading political tea leaves, or at least election results. In a recent direct mail piece, Delegate Marsden stakes out the low-tax mantle, claiming he will  "Hold the line on taxes," although he has consistently voted for numerous tax increases in the House of Delegates, including this $2 billion increase (click here) in 2008. It would have raised taxes on car and home purchases (just what we need in a recession) and encouraged a Northern Virginia sales tax increase.

When voters ask for change, residency and glossing over voting records isn't what they have in mind. Virginia Democrats won several elections in Virginia prior to November by basically saying, "We're not Republicans." Now, facing a statewide catastrophe, they have to say who they are, for once. According to the mailer released by Delegate Marsden, they still aren't.

Virginia News Stand: December 10, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations Obamanomics Claims Victim — The ACLU's Largest Donor

Governor Tim Kaine's expansion of state employee health insurance benefits to same-sex and other unmarried couples and announcements by Governor-elect Bob McDonnell  dominate the news. Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb is quoted in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot article on the former. As for McDonnell, he reiterated vows to balance the budget as well as to reject tax increases. He also named two cabinet secretaries: Bob Sledd, former head Performance Food Group CEO, a Fortune 500 company before taken private, will be Secretary of Commerce; and long time McDonnell aide Janet Polarek will be Secretary of the Commonwealth. He also fulfilled a campaign promise by formally announcing that Lt. Governor Bill Bolling will head up all job creation efforts. If you thought he couldn't attend certain meetings before. ...

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Jim Webb (contact) says he's not yet decided on how he will vote on health care "reform" (although thousands have asked him to vote "no"). The Tea Party movement has a message for Republican first district U.S. Rep. Rob Whittman. Nationally, the Washington Post has a feature on the Tea Party movement and whether it will split the GOP. Surely, wishful, but not of the question, thinking. But liberals are not without their divisions, either: The ACLU's top donor (to the tune of $19 million a year), David Gelbaum,  has stopped cold his donations to that organization, as well as to the Sierra Club and other liberal groups. Guess Obamanomics affects rich liberals, too.

News:

*Log Cabin Republicans back Va. benefits change (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

McDonnell questions Kaine benefits plan (Washington Times)

McDonnell vows not to raise taxes (Washington Times)

McDonnell vows balanced budget (Roanoke Times)

Lt. Gov. Bolling to be named to jobs creation post (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McDonnell to announce Bolling, Sledd to head economic team (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Undecided on health-care vote, says Webb (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Push is on to force lawmakers to reveal government income (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Tea Party group chides Wittman (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

National:

For conservatives, a political surge (Washington Post)

ACLU loses donor, one-fourth of yearly contributions (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Virginia News Stand: December 8, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations Little News Is At Least Okay

If no news is good news, a little news must be at least okay. Today's headlines are few but bring encouragement. First, a bill has been filed for the upcoming session of the General Assembly that would restore State Police Chaplains' rights to pray in Jesus' name. Second, charter schools and how to get more of them is gaining momentum, and Governor-elect Bob McDonnell is fully behind that. Third, parties are being planned. Not all are for Christmas.

News:

Bill would give OK to chaplains' prayer (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Virginia’s charter-school law gets failing grade by education — reform group (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Gov.-elect says charter school applications to get boost in Va. (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

House of Delegates races set spending record (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Kaine's farewell party (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

If Charter Schools Make No Difference, Why The 40,000 Waiting List In New York?

Educrats and assorted opponents of school choice and competition love to point to statistics that show student achievement in charter schools is no greater than in government-run schools. Therefore, they demand that we stop "taking away resources" from public schools. (First, can we stop using the euphemism "resources"? It's taxpayer money, for Pete's sake! It doesn't come from the ground or trees or the river, where real, actual, put-to-use resources come from.)

Second, we know what they say about statistics. Third, and most important, if charter schools are so bad or indifferent, why do so many parents and students want in? In New York alone, there is a waiting list of 40,000 students trying to escape the government-run monopoly!

Unfortunately, New York, as does Virginia, has a cap on the amount of charter schools. Different formula, same result — restricting competition and choice as well as the variety of teaching methods and environments. The only thing it does produce is more student failure and teacher inadequacy. But there is hope for New York. Its Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told Maura Walz of the blog Gotham Schools that she favors raising the charter school cap. There is hope in Virginia as well, since Governor-elect Bob McDonnell, his running mates Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli, and the increased GOP majority in the House of Delegates favor more school competition. With McDonnell's giant mandate, there are rumors of some big idea education reform legislation that may be proposed during the upcoming session of the General Assembly. After all, even President Barack Obama is in the odd position of being on McDonnell's side on this issue. 

For a good briefing on the actual value of charter schools, here's part one of an interview with Caroline Hoxby, Ph.D., the Scott and Donya Bommer Professor of Economics at Stanford University, conducted by the Show-Me Institute in May (for the other three parts, click on this YouTube link and the the "more info" link on the right):

If charter schools are so bad, why are is there a waiting list of 40,000 students in New York?

Virginia News Stand: December 2, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations The Hunt Is On

Stephen Hunt won the three-way Republican "fire house" primary last night to secure the 37th Senate District nomination in the January 12 special election to fill the term of Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli. Hunt, a former member of the Fairfax County School Board, won the heavy turnout primary handily over his two opponents. He now takes on Delegate Dave Marsden (D-41, Fairfax) who, until several days ago, didn't live in the district. He is renting a room from a friend who does in order to be eligible. Meanwhile, Governor-elect Bob McDonnell continues his PR offensive. Following up his meeting with House Democrats, he now will meet with leaders of the Senate. More substantively, he's asked for detailed reports from all state agencies in order to find efficiencies in a deficit-ridden budget. A good start. But ideas, if not money, are in large supply, and the governor-elect is getting them from everyone, from within and outside of his cadre. We post two, from Pat Nolan and Mike Thompson, both of Bacon's Rebellion

Nationally, the left is losing it, and it doesn't get any better than that as far exposing who they are. Chris Matthews calls West Point cadets the "enemy" and the liberal mayor of Baltimore won't resign despite a theft conviction. Polls show independents fleeing the Obama/liberal camp, including young voters (ask soon-to-be-former Delegate Shannon Valentine) as Matt Friedeman of Rightly Concerned Blog notes.

But it's ClimateGate that continues to expose the left, particularly for putting ideology over science. Hmmm. Where have we heard that before? Now, look, it really is true, but it's the left that's been doing it all along. Just goes to show you . . . when the other side screams loud accusations at your side, it normally means it is they who are doing that which they accuse you. In other words, they're cracking up.

News:

McDonnell asks for detailed reports from state agencies (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McDonnell to meet with Senate leaders (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Republicans nominate Hunt in 37th senate district (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

'Firehouse primary' gets busy turnout (Washington Times)

Houck says localities will feel pinch (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Analysis:

Common Sense Prison Reforms Will Help McDonnell Close Budget Gap (Pat Nolan/Bacon's Rebellion)

Huge Opportunities for our Incoming Governor (Mike Thompson/Bacon's Rebellion)

National News:

'ClimateGate' deception continues to unfold (OneNewsNow.com)

Global warming e-mail scandal prompts resignation (AP/OneNewsNow.com)

Tempers flare as Senate debates healh care (AP/OneNewsNow.com)

After police killings, Huckabee defends clemency for suspect (Washington Post)

In D.C., a rift over plights for civil rights, gay rights (Washington Post)

Baltimore Mayor found guilty of stealing vows to stay on (AP/OneNewsNow.com)

Commentary:

All the president's Climategate deniers (Michelle Malkin/OneNewsNow.com)

Chris Matthews Calls West Point 'Enemy Camp' (Elijah Friedeman/The Millennial Perspective, Rightly Concerned Blog)

Young People Waking Up, Turning on Democrats (Matt Friedeman/Rightly Concerned Blog)

Polls Show Democrats Are in Trouble (Elijah Friedeman/The Millennial Perspective, Rightly Concerned Blog)

Virginia News Stand: November 19, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations Breaking News: Next Budget Shortfall $3.5 Billion!

Breaking news this evening: Senate Finance Committee analysts told that committee's members this afternoon that the next two-year budget will be $3.5 billion short, not to mention the current budget lacking another $209 million.

In other news, Governor Tim Kaine told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he has concerns with some of Governor-elect Bob McDonnell's positions. He is afraid the new governor will sign certain bills he vetoed, not continue his executive order banning "sexual orientation discrimination" in state government hiring, and fears meat ax budget cuts (apparently only Mr. Kaine knows how to cut spending correctly). He also said he's not afraid of being unpopular. Good thing. 

Speaking of cuts, one state budget analyst told the House Appropriations and Finance Committees yesterday the commonwealth of overbuilt for prisons and that perhaps construction and maintenance costs could be pared for the time being. A harmless cut, manna for pols!

In national news, the Senate showdown on health care approaches and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius tries to put out a fire by now saying, of course the administration wants women to get mammograms by age 40. Uh-huh, right. Meanwhile, the public embraces common sense proposals, such as tort reform, but no one's listening, and the president has hired another tax cheat at the Treasury Department.

In Commentary, Larry Kudlow, Michael Barone and Michelle Malkin take on different aspects of President Obama's bowing and tripping Asia excursion, Walter E. Williams excoriates the horrendous moral relativism taught to our students, and Christopher Adamo explains the GOP-Palin disconnect.

News:

State facing $3.5 billion shortfall in next budget (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Virginia's road budget slashed another $851.5M (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

State transit plan faces $851.5 million cut (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Analyst proposes putting corrections projects in Va. on hold (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Gov. Kaine cites concerns on Virginia's budget, roads (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Gov. Kaine wants ethics probe of ex-delegate Hamilton to continue (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Federal grand jury subpoenas Hamilton documents (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Study highlights tax burden disparity (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The GOP: Luddites or high tech? (Washington Post Politics and Policy Blog)

National News:

Senate girds for historic debate on health bill (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Thousands cheer Palin in Mich. for book tour (AP/GOPUSA.com)

AP Poll: Support for curbs on malpractice lawsuits (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Another Obama (Treasury) nominee runs into tax problems (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Sebelius: Women should get mammograms by age 40 (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary:

President Zero Sum Goes to Asia(Larry Kudlow/GOPUSA.com)

Obama Bows, but the World Refuses to Bow Back(Michael Barone/GOPUSA.com)

Excused Horrors (Walter E. Williams/GOPUSA.com)

Obama's Doubletalk On Political Dissent(Michelle Malkin/GOPUSA.com)

Palin, Conservatism, And The Disconnected GOP (Christopher Adamo/GOPUSA.com)

Winning Matters Winners (And Still More Work To Do)

In October, we announced an online contest to reward the person who distributed the most voter guides prior to the election. We also announced a drawing for all who participated in our online contest. Congratulations to Donna Moore, our contest winner, who distributed nearly 10,000 voter guides to churches and various groups in the Fredericksburg area. Donna is a member of the Rappahannock Family Forum and has been actively engaged in making a difference in that region for years. We will send Donna a beautiful framed photograph of the state capitol.

Also, congratulations to Tony Armstrong of Newport News, who won the overall drawing. He will receive an autographed copy of the book From Hope to Higher Ground by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

We offer our sincere thanks to all who distributed voter guides during the past campaign. With your help, we placed nearly 900,000 voter guides in churches and with civic groups throughout The Old Dominion! This is by far our largest voter guide distribution effort and we believe our voter guides had a big impact on the election. CNN exit polls reported that 34 percent of those who voted were born again/evangelicals, 83 percent of whom voted for the winning candidates. That is the highest percentage of voting for that demographic since CNN began exit polling in Virginia, giving the winning ticket nearly 50 percent of their votes.

This does not take into account our many African-American friends, such as new Pastors For Family Values Chaplain, Bishop Earl Jackson. We also published our first voter guide in Spanish and received much positive response from pastors in the Hispanic community. But . . . there is still work to do!

Please continue to keep our Winning Matters efforts in your prayers. There are at least two special elections to fill vacant Senate seats (to replace Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli and Virginia Beach Sheriff-elect Ken Stolle) and maybe more as Governor-elect Bob McDonnell selects his cabinet appointees. We will be "on the job" and "on the ground" with our Winning Matters team, covering these elections, motivating and educating voters to make an informed choice at the ballot box.