VITA

Virginia News Stand: April 27, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations Northrop Grumman Day In The Commonwealth 

At VITA, of course, every day is Northrop Grumman Day, but there is legitimate news to celebrate: A major domestic corporation, a Fortune 500 company, that does business all over the world is moving its HQ to our commonwealth. Of course, to get it to move here, we're giving  away 14 million taxpayer dollars and a labyrinth of incentives, tax credits, etc., Wouldn't it be simpler to do away with — or at least greatly reduce — the state corporate income tax? A discussion for another day.

Elsewhere, we make the news in the Old Dominion Watchdog, Governor McDonnell is asked to lift the ban on State Police Chaplains praying in Jesus' name, and how much real estate does the commonwealth own? Norman Leahy, of Tertium Quids, asks. Speaking of such, is the governor going to sell the gubernatorial retreat? Say it ain't so! As usual, our Commentary section is loaded, with Bobby Eberle returning from hiatus and Thomas Sowell as brilliant as ever.

Lots of National News to contemplate, including two GOP insiders in serious trouble in Senate primaries, more about the health care law not doing all it said it would (except for the tax increases, of course), President Obama uses divisive identity politics for partisan political gain, and a commission meets at taxpayer expense to figure out how to reduce the national debt. I'll do it for free: CUT SPENDING!

News

*Lawmakers restrict public funding for abortions (Old Dominion Watchdog)

Northrop Grumman picks Virginia for headquarters (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McDonnell, Northrop confirm company has chosen Virginia for headquarters (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Va. offered Northrop Grumman up to $14 million (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Virginia gives Northrop Grumman up to $14 million to move headquarters (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

McDonnell considers sale of gubernatorial retreat (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

On role of federal lawsuits to AG's term, Cuccinelli and Democrats agree (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

McDonnell asked to lift a ban on State Police troopers referring to Jesus in public prayers (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Off-track betting center proposed at Innsbrook (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Sullivan seeks GOP nomination for Chesterfield House seat (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Analysis

Virginia's messy real estate portfolio (Norman Leahy/Tertium Quids)

National News

Arizona pushes immigration politics to forefront (AP/GOPUSA.com

McCain: Arizona had to crack down on immigration (AP/GOPUSA.com)

GOP prevents cloture on Democrat financial regulation bill (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Obama panel weighs politically toxic deficit fixes (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Some families will face wait to cover young adults (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Free speech versus kids and violent video games (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Obama asks specific Americans for help in 2010 (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Coats favored (barely) in crowded Indiana GOP primary (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary

With Obama, It's Always 'His' People vs. 'Those' People (Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)

Filtering History (Thomas Sowell/GOPUSA.com)

Are Americans Going John Galt? (Doug Patton/GOPUSA.com)

Obamacare Revealing Changes to Come (David Limbaugh/GOPUSA.com)

Obama Sends in the Clowns (J. Matt Barber/GOPUSA.com)

Cut Gas Prices Now (Richard Olivastro/GOPUSA.com)

National Debt — The Real Dirty Little Secret (Thomas D. Segel/GOPUSA.com)

Congrats To Delegate Hugo: New House GOP Caucus Chair

Agreeing and rejecting to Governor Bob McDonnell's amendments Wednesday wasn't the only business going on in Mr. Jefferson's Capitol. When the governor selected former Delegate Sam Nixon to head up VITA, not only did it create a vacancy for his seat, it created a vacancy in the House GOP leadership since he was the House GOP Caucus chairman. In his place, the caucus elected Delegate Tim Hugo (R-40, Fairfax) (see VA GOP Caucus Blog). From Delegate Hugo's news release:

"As a recognized leader within the Caucus, Tim understands the duties required of this position and has the right temperament and experiences to be very successful in his important new capacity," stated Speaker William J. Howell. "During these tough economic times and need to reform state government to make it smarter and simpler, it is imperative that we have an energetic, dedicated and knowledgeable member like Tim joining our leadership team. Like so many, I am looking forward to working with him and our Majority Caucus will be better off because of his leadership."

He will have large shoes to fill, but he has something in common with former Delegate Nixon, which, if it is any indicator of future success, bodes well for conservatives: then-Delegate Nixon, before becoming GOP Caucus chair, was the Virginia Conservative Caucus chairman. Delegate Hugo, first elected to the House of Delegates in a special election in December 2002, has been an active member of the "concaucus" where we have forged an excellent relationship with him. He also is a member of the Commerce and Labor, Finance, Transportation, and Privileges and Elections Committees. He is vice-chair of the Finance Committee and chairs sub-committees in Finance and Commerce and Labor. He represents parts of Fairfax, Centreville, Clifton, and Fairfax Station. We congratulate him, wish him well and look forward to working with him in his new capacity.

Virginia News Stand: March 25, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations Living La VITA

Congratulations to Delegate Sam Nixon, named yesterday as the chief at VITA. We don't envy the job he has sorting out that mess, (ahem, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine), but if anyone can do it, we know it's Delegate Nixon. We'll miss him in the House, where he twice earned The Family Foundation's Legislator of the Year Award and where he chaired the Conservative Caucus before getting elected to chair the House Republican Caucus.

Most everything else is about health care. It won't go away and for good reason. One sign it has legs, especially in Virginia, is the national attention placed on Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's law suit on the government takeover's constitutionality. Today, the New York Times chimes in, twice. One article covers the AG, himself; one on the preposterous allegation that the lawsuit is reminiscent of the fight for desegregated schools. Typical. At least we have a number of great editorial comics for you enjoyment.

News

McDonnell touts new Va. law in health-care challenge (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Health care fight spreads through Virginia (The Daily Press)

Dems liken health care suit to desegregation fight (The Daily Press)

Va. Democrats demand info on health care challenge (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Chesterfield delegate named new head of VITA (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

George Mason board adopts resolution to "reaffirm" gay policy (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

National

Attorney General Moves to Forefront of Virginia Conservative Resurgence (New York Times)

Dems Liken Health Care Suit to Desegregation Fight (New York Times)

Opponents continue to stand against health care (AP/GOPUSA.com)

GOP forces return of health bill th House (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Petraeus denies political side to NH trip (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Analysis

The Real Issue That Can Turn Congress Upside Down in November (Matt Towery/GOPUSA.com)

Bond Markets Reflect the True Cost of Obamacare (Michael Barrone/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary

Tainting the Tea Party (Brent Bozell/GOPUSA.com)

Are McCain Republicans Finally 'Seeing The Light'? (Christopher Adamo/GOPUSA.com)

Whatever Happened To The Tenth Amendment? (Harris Sherline/GOPUSA.com)

Vive La Differance (Lisa Fabrizio/GOPUSA.com)

Military Express Health Care Concerns (Thomas Segal/GOPUSA.com)

Editorial Comics

Constitutional Toliet Paper (Mike Lester/Rome News-Tribune)

Who said blue dogs can't be trained? (Gary Varvel/TownHall.com)

Health-Care Reform (IRS) (Gary Varvel/TownHall.com)

GOPUSA.com Comics

Did Forbes Magazine, CNBC Do Their Homework In Naming Virginia Best State For Business?

We're as thrilled as the next guy that Virginia continues to rack up victories in prestigious national rankings for business and management. The PR can't hurt, especially in these times. Governor Tim Kaine certainly couldn't contain his enthusiasm this morning on his monthly call-in show on Richmond radio station WRVA when he announced Forbes again named Virginia the best state in the nation in for business. (Never mind the fact that, by Forbes' own admission, Georgia, which moved from 15th to fifth, is the real story this year). This adds to the Old Dominion's CNBC Number 1 ranking, announced last month.   Virginia has won so many "Best State For Business" and "Best Managed State" awards over the last 10 years (all without major league sports franchises and new stadiums, by the way) that one has to wonder how much of it is earned and how much is based on reputation. It makes one question whether CNBC and Forbes have even heard of VITA and Northrop Grumman (see Daily Press). How can either one claim the current administration has managed the state well with a massive agency/private sector partnership in meltdown (see Charlottesville Daily Progress)? What about the constantly missed budget revenue forecasts despite repeated warnings from outside sources and the General Assembly? Not to mention four years without a transportation plan. We don't hear the governor championing those aspects of his government.

Virginia News Stand: September 15, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations NRA Splits From Deeds, Deeds Re-Unites With Kaine

Interesting headlines from across the commonwealth today. The news is that tax revenues this quarter again are far below projections. Ahem! Jody Wagner. Also, the Post's Virginia Politics Blog has a counterintuitive take on the Northern Virginia electorate. Could it be that the GOP takes three Dem House seats up NoVa way? Four years ago, the NRA endorsed Creigh Deeds over Bob McDonnell in their campaign for attorney general. It's one reason given for the closeness of the race. This time McDonnell holds serve. Impact to be determined, but it won't hurt (i.e., 120,000 gun owners who vote). Advantage McDonnell.

Speaking of switches, for the last few weeks it was as if Deeds didn't know the governor's name, distancing himself from Tim Kaine's troubles stemming from the budget, Northrup Grumman/VITA and his DNC moonlighting. His ads, instead, featured U.S. Senator Mark Warner. Now, Deeds is back on the Kaine horse, according to the Post. Per our usual, the rest of the News Stand is packed with an all-star line-up, including a personal favorite, Dr. Thomas Sowell; Dick Morris counter attacks the Obama administration attack on his analysis of the administration's health care takeover, homosexual activists continue their assault on DOMA, and Internet expert Rachel Alexander examines how conservatives can better use social networking and marketing tools. Hmmm. Hitting close to home there, Rachel!

News:

Bolling ties state budget cuts to Wagner's revenue forecasts (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

A Reverse Trend in Northern Virginia? (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

NRA switches to McDonnell; firefighters endorse Deeds (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Gubernatorial hopefuls promise K-12 education reforms (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Deeds Touts Himself as Heir to Kaine And Warner (Washington Post)

Issues That Matter to You: Prison Jobs and Funding (Washington Post)

Lohr, Hart Tackle Taxes (Harrisonburg Daily News-Record)

National News:

Backers of gay marriage want to repeal federal law (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Senate votes to deny funds to ACORN (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Analysis:

How the right can most effectively use social media (Rachel Alexander/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary:

McDonnell flap affects other races (Jeff Schapiro/Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Rebutting Obama's Health Care Speech (Dick Morris and Eileen McGann/GOPUSA.com)

Fables For Adults (Thomas Sowell/GOPUSA.com)

Are Seniors Being Targeted? (Richard Olivastro/GOPUSA.com)

Virginia News Stand: September 14, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations Leftovers

The Communications Department was out today so I scrounged up some articles it passed along last week and some I found as well that I didn't have time to post last week. But they're evergreen, mostly.

Some interesting notes: Governor Kaine's car was hit while at VITA, the agency his administration has mismanaged. Omen? Speaking of the governor, he's abandoned the "Virginia way" for the that done by California — furloughs?! Oh yeah, more on Creigh Deeds "change" of thought on certain social issues. The Washington Times documents the growing importance of national issues in the gubernatorial campaign, while a study in the Richmond Times-Dispatch provides a demographic look at state legislatures. Meanwhile, that paper's Jeff Schapiro, of all people, doesn't quite think the Deeds' thesis strategy is going to pay off. Funny, how Mr. Schapiro and his colleagues continue to beat the same tone deaf drum.

News:

National issues dominate Va. Race (Washington Times)

State legislatures becoming older, more diverse, study says (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Kaine's SUV damaged in VITA parking lot (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Kaine's budget plan includes unpaid day off for state workers (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Kaine to impose furlough for most state workers (Roanoke Times)

Deeds admits change in ideas (Washington Times)

Scott lays out case for health care reform (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Warner walks fine line on health care (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Controversy spreads before Obama's school speech (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

President's speech to schools: Pep talk or politics? (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Candidates gather in Buena Vista for Labor Day parade (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Getting to Richmond, By Way of A Parade (Washington Post)

Deeds, McDonnell at Buena Vista Labor Day Parade (Roanoke Times)

Labor Day: Deeds shines at Scott picnic (The Daily Press

McDonnell works to move past thesis criticism (The Daily Press)

McDonnell Changes Topic Amid Thesis Issue (Washington Post

Deeds uses radio, Internet to attack McDonnell on thesis (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Deeds focuses on McDonnell thesis (Roanoke Times

Deeds jumps at opening to blast foe's 1989 thesis (Northern Virginia Daily)

Deeds sticks to thesis talk (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Democrats Look For '08 Magic (Harrisonburg Daily News-Record)

Morrissey to pedal 74 miles through 74th to kick off re-election bid (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Will feds find more e-mails to ODU? (The Daily Press)

Analysis:

Thesis fracas may not give Deeds the boost he needs(Jeff Schapiro/Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Video:

Cheers and Jeers (3:53) (Richmond Times-Dispatch.com)

About 50 percent of the crowd at Third District U.S. Representative Bobby Scott's (D-Va.) health care town hall meeting was against the "reform," or about 100 percent more than he likely expected. 

Virginia News Stand: July 13, 2009

There's a lot of variety in today's News Stand, everything from the early success of the Choose Life license plates, to Governor Tim Kaine's continued problems (miss forecast budget revenues, Northrup Grumman/VITA, etc.), to Republican Attorney General candidate Senator Ken Cuccinelli's call for a special session to remedy evidence rules because of a recent Supreme Court ruling; and all from a variety of sources. We'll have more elaborate comments tomorrow. News:

'Choose Life' plates sent to motorists in Va. (Washington Times)

DMV gets nearly 600 applications for new 'Choose Life' plate (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

Governor Hopefuls Veer Off The Trail (Washington Post)

Kaine to break record with budget cuts (Washington Times)

$2.2 Billion State Computer Contract Upgraded to Election-Year Headache (Washington Post)

AG candidate demands change in evidence law (Washington Times)

Cuccinelli calls for special assembly session on court ruling (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Parties, Candidates Make The Call (Harrisonburg Daily News-Record)

Project seeks health care stories (Roanoke Times)

Virginia News Stand: July 1, 2009

Happy New Year! You're asking, "What?" Today, my friends, is Virginia's New Year's Day, when the budget for the fiscal year and new laws take effect. Many headlines, predictably, are about the news laws. Not only are many of the 800-plus new laws mundane, but they overshadow what might be a huge campaign issue: What to do with VITA and Northrop Grumman? The Richmond Times-Dispatch today reports that state government has reversed itself and is calling for NG to do some 'splainin' and demanded answers and remedies for serious breakdowns in its delivery of IT services to the commonwealth, and threatened legal action. This is becoming a bigger mess by the day, and will only morph from big to gigantic. The reader comments below the article are telling. One wonders if Governor Tim Kaine is aware or is he's in Miami or Kansas City or Los Angeles working on his night job. 

Other than that, most of the news is out of state: Our neighbors to the north are giving homosexual couples a tax break, while our neighbors to the south are mum on a homosexual rape of a minor black boy by a male Duke professor. It is in stark contrast to the presumption of guilt by its administration toward four lacrosse players a few years ago when they were accused of raping a black woman. Another example of politically correct intolerance and corruption infesting our campuses.

Meanwhile, a black minister and former NFL star says there is "no truth" at all in the pandering speech President Barack Obama gave earlier this week to homosexual activists. Throwing yet another bone to the homosexual lobby, the president is not appealing a $500,000 discrimination ruling in favor of a transsexual against the Library of Congress. After all, it's only tax money. More of that everywhere. As for the principle of it all. ... What?

News:

State accuses Northrop Grumman of breach (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Many new state laws are in effect today (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

New Laws Tackle Land, Gun Rights (Harrisonburg Daily News-Record)

Prohibition On Texting By Drivers Starts in Va. (Washington Post)

National News:

New Md. tax law gives gay couples a break (Washington Times)

Term Saw High Court Move to The Right (Washington Post)

Duke's homosexual rape case elicits silence (OneNewsNow.com)

'No truth' in Obama's speech before homosexuals (OneNewsNow.com)

Obama White House not appealing transgender ruling (AP/OneNewsNow.com)

Virginia News Stand: June 30, 2009

Leading the news today is a piece on NRO.com about Senator Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for attorney general. It gives a good look into his beliefs of limited constitutional government. Let's say he doesn't take lightly the intent of the Founders, many of whom he proudly cites as Virginians. Elsewhere, the Post acknowledges that taxes are still a good issue for Republicans this fall at the same time Fairfax County may (surprise!) raise taxes — again! Meanwhile, Mark Warner's baby, VITA, continues to be a headache for the commonwealth.

Nationally, President Obama continues his back and forth on the  homosexual agenda. Now, according to the AP, he wants all Americans to joyfully accept it. Also, yesterday's Supreme Court decision on striking down a reverse discrimination policy in Connecticut, that had been upheld by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the president's Supreme Court nominee, may play a role in her confirmation. We have an AP article and a commentary by Bobby Eberle. Finally, Marcia Segelstein takes a look at whether school children are getting frightened by environmentalists.

News:

Virginia Gentleman (National Review Online)

Va. Republicans drop fight over access to Kaine's DNC travel records (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

For GOP, Taxes Retain Potency (Washington Post)

Va. Lawmakers Question System Upgrade Contract (Washington Post)

Ailing Budget May Lead Fairfax Back to Car Tax (Washington Post

Virginia considering regulating car title loans (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Activist says it's time that Christianity got a makeover (Roanoke Times)

National News:

Obama hopes to persuade all Americans to accept homosexuality (AP/OneNewsNow.com)

Discrimination ruling shapes Sotomayor debate (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary:

Message to Obama Nominee: Discrimination is Wrong (Bobby Eberle/ GOPUSA.com)

Are Environmentalists Scaring Your Kids? (Marcia Segelstein video blog/American Family Association blog)

Update: Governor Offers Amendment To Transparency Bill

As we mentioned last night, Governor Tim Kaine has offered an amendment to HB 2285, the spending transparency bill patroned by Delegate Ben Cline. But it's not just any amendment. It's an amendment in the nature of a substitute, meaning it's a whole new bill (see here). At first read, and we stress only a first, glancing read, it seems to provide for more thorough transparency. On the other hand, VITA is involved. Here's HB 2285 as passed by the House and Senate (click here). We'll study both side by side. Please do the same. As we said from the beginning, getting spending transparency into law was never going to be easy — even for a bill that got not one dissenting vote in several committee and floor votes in both chambers. It has had more ups and downs and twists and turns than the Rebel Yell roller coaster at Kings Dominion, and we're still not there yet. But we'll keep working until we do.

One Sacred Cow That Needs A Diet: Virginia's Department of Education

Later this week, members of the House of Delegates and Senate (contact here) will gather in separate enclaves in Virginia to discuss the Commonwealth's estimated $2.5 billion "shortfall" in budget revenue (see recent post). Much of the problem stems from exaggerated revenue projections when the economy was clearly headed for a recession. As we cut our family and business budgets, there aren't many things that are off limits. Unfortunately, that isn't necessarily true for government. Can you guess which Virginia department's budget is described by these facts?

» $4-5 billion more than any other department's annual budget;

» 39 percent of the 2007 budget; and

» Structurally designed to prevent budget reductions or even slow budget increases.

If you guessed Virginia's Department of Education, congratulations! You won. But so has the DOE under our current budget structure — and has won for many years.

Consider these two statistics (it's stat day at FFblog):

» DOE was 39 percent of the state's budget in 2007, but its budget increase from 2007 to 2008 accounted for 57 percent of the total state budget increase. It's important to note that enrollment did not increase by such magnitude!

» Unless altered, the DOE's budget will increase another 6 percent in 2009.

Even with its rapid budget increases, however, Governor Tim Kaine (contact here) has already stated that, despite the revenue shortfall, public education is off the table in the current round of budget reductions.

In fact, even when legislators hint at simply reducing the rate of increase for public education, the maelstrom of anger from the Virginia Education Association (see previous comments) and other educrat entities quickly subdues elected officials. DOE's state budget is increasing 18 percent more than what would be proportionally expected. 

Not all departments have the same good fortune as DOE. For example, from 2007 to 2008, the Department of Natural Resources experienced a 36 percent decrease in its budget. Even the technology department, a department many would expect to have an expanding budget due to development and growth in the field, was relegated to a 6 percent decrease from 2007 to 2008.

The annual boost in DOE's budget is driven by a faulty and antiquated Standards of Quality formula (see previous comments), which increases funding due to growth in hiring as opposed to growth in student achievement or enrollment. Virginia is, in fact, one of only four states that funds public education based on staffing and not on number of students. Even in school districts with decreasing enrollment, funding increases!

Without a revision of the SOQ formula, DOE's budget will continue to rise year after year at an exponentially higher rate than we can hope to sustain (see previous comments). We can continue to adequately fund public education but not at the rate that the VEA demands. Simply put, we cannot continue to increase spending in this area by $1 billion every biennium without a massive tax hike. Of course, some in Richmond know that and will push for that increase in the "name of the children" eventually. To oppose such an increase will be deemed anti-child.

In this time of economic uncertainty, it is even more important that government be fiscally responsible. The Department of Education's budget should be just as vulnerable to state budget adjustments as any other department in order to return Virginia to economic stability. Education funding should be tied to education outcomes. Virginia's Standards of Learning do not in anyway influence funding, although they most certainly should factor into the equation. 

There are two ways to fix our ailing education system in Virginia — fix the SOQs and provide families with the freedom to choose the school, public or private, that suits their needs (more school choice and options). We cannot continue to fund public education without public accountability.