No Confidence Vote?Aug 20, 2008
Everyone remembers Queen Elizabeth's visit here in May 2007 to celebrate Virginia's quadricentennial. Although figures show her visit's impact didn't give historic Jamestown more than a short-term boost in visitation, apparently Her Highness did have an influence among some General Assembly Democrats. For as much as state Dems are publicly giddy over the possibility that Governor Tim Kaine may be nominated by their national party for vice president, they don't want to be seen in his presence — kind of like the British Parliament's vote of no confidence. You see, His Excellency had to make a tail-between-the-legs-presentation to the General Assembly money committees Monday, where he had to admit he overestimated revenue projections when crafting his budget — perhaps conveniently, so as to add new programs, such as pre-K. He did this despite repeated warnings by lawmakers of both parties, as well as Delegate Lacey Putney (I-19, Bedford), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who released a statement he sent to the governor last winter (read here). So on Monday, Vice Pres, uhhh, Governor Kaine had to suck it up and announce plans for cuts to the $78 billion two-year budget.
But some didn't get the message. Not first hand, anyway. That's because several key Democrat legislators were missing. Some pretty big donkeys, too, including House Democrat Leader, Delegate Ward Armstrong (D-10, Martinsville), a member of the House Finance Committee; House Democrat Caucus Chairman Delegate Brian Moran (D-46, Alexandria), also a Finance Committee member and a 2009 candidate for governor; and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), who sits on the Senate Finance Committee. They are in addition to Jody Wagner, who just happened to make her resignation as Finance Secretary effective the previous Friday. She's the one who advised then-Governor Mark Warner that we needed a tax increase because Virginia's budget was running a "deficit." It was that pretense under which we had shoved Virginia's largest-in-history-tax-increase at us. Turned out, we ran three consecutive years of record surpluses. So, for four years she underestimated; the last three she's overestimated. Now, she's running for lieutenant governor. (How will she know how much money she needs to raise for her campaign?)
So why did all these people avoid VP/Governor Kaine? Wagner's absence is easy to understand — the target on her back already is bigger than the ones at the Olympic rifle range. The legislators were afraid, perhaps, of being perceived as accepting of budget cuts, which would anger their liberal base. Or maybe they don't want to be identified with the financial mismanagement of the nation's "Best Managed State." Whatever the reason, it was a no confidence vote on the man they think should be the country's number two.