Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sen. Creigh Deeds to Gov. McAuliffe – use the line item veto

Senator Creigh Deeds

Senator Creigh Deeds

Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds wants Governor Terry McAuliffe to use the line item veto to eliminate the new budget language that strips authority from the MIRC. At this point, there is not much for him to lose if he can find a way to line item veto the amendment out of the budget,” he said.

Deeds says, “though the language is interwoven in the budget, in my view, this is the best option. Sign the remainder of the budget. Austerity cannot be prevented in a time of declining revenue. If the amended language is stricken, and the General Assembly fails to muster the two-thirds vote to override the veto, the Governor can continue to explore ways to expand Medicaid and close the coverage gap.

The Governor could sign the budget and it would be a crap shoot on whether Medicaid would be reconsidered in the 2015 session. The budget agreement would allow local governments to move forward.

The Governor could veto the budget. A veto would leave everything up in the air.

Senator Puckett’s region in southwest Virginia is driven by the politics of coal and faces severe economic challenges with a loss of population.

“I am convinced that we can find a Democratic candidate who can hold on to the seat. If we can accomplish that goal, we can restore balance to the General Assembly,” said Deeds. 

Read more as Deeds describes the events of last week and his disappointment in Senator Phillip Puckett who he called “a good friend.”

Last week saw the passage of a state budget and also the potential demise of Medicaid expansion in Virginia. Two dramatic events of the previous few days drove the results of the Special Session. 

First, word leaked out gradually on June 6th and June 7th of the sudden resignation of Senator Phillip Puckett. His resignation restored the Republican majority in the Senate of Virginia, ensuring that Republicans controlled both houses of the General Assembly.

When I first heard about Senator Puckett’s resignation, I called him. Phillip Puckett has been a good friend of mine for a long time. I have eaten at his table, been a guest in his home, prayed in his church. He told me he was resigning to do what was best for his family and would not give me more detail. I trust Phillip and am certain that his decision to leave the Senate of Virginia was what he thought was right for his family. However, members of the General Assembly also have an obligation to the people they represent and to the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

Red flags appeared immediately. First, Republican legislators seemed more informed about what was going on than did Democrats. Republican senators were quoted in the papers about Senator Puckett continuing his service and a prominent Republican delegate from southwest Virginia, the Chairman of the Tobacco Commission, indicated that Senator Puckett was going to be considered for the position of Deputy Director of the Tobacco Commission. In fact, the Tobacco Commission had a meeting scheduled for last Wednesday and the only thing on the docket was the consideration of the hiring of a Deputy Director. 

Second, in recent years Senator Puckett has maintained a focus on helping appoint his daughter to the bench. Republicans denied him the 21st vote necessary to have her elected as a judge based on a supposed tradition of the Senate not appointing family members to the bench. While I think such a policy makes sense, history suggests there is no such tradition. In the 1990s, former Delegate Ward Armstrong’s brother was appointed to the district court bench. Later, former Delegate Joe Johnson’s son went on the district court bench and was elevated a few years later to the circuit bench. I have never known of another senator to have a family member considered for a judgeship, but it is clear that there is no such tradition with respect to members of the General Assembly. 

After Senator Puckett resigned and the public exploded, he withdrew his name from consideration for employment with the Tobacco Commission. The meeting scheduled for last Wednesday was cancelled. 

Senator Puckett’s sudden resignation came at a crucial time in this budget standoff – when the pressure was on both sides to find a way to close the coverage gap and get a budget passed before the end of the fiscal year, June 30. The resignation means that Republicans have the majority in both houses of the legislature. They were able to pass a budget, and they now have the unfettered ability to elect judges. 

The second event which turned the political world on its head in Virginia was the defeat of Eric Cantor, the majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives in the Republican Primary in the 7th Congressional District. Eric Cantor was elected to the House of Delegates with me in 1991. I have known Eric for a long time and while we have disagreements on matters of policy, we have always been friendly to one another. His loss in the primary sent a shockwave through the Republican apparatus in Virginia and allowed the House Republican Caucus and the 17 members of the Senate Republican Caucus that opposed Marketplace Virginia, to put pressure on the three senators who have worked with the Governor and with the Democratic Caucus to arrive at a compromise on Medicaid expansion in Virginia. 

Much speculation has centered on the strength of the Tea Party and its effect on the primary. The Tea Party is an important subset, a populist subset, of the Republican Party. However, my take on things is much simpler. I think Representative Cantor took his eyes off the ball and paid more attention to his job as majority leader than to the residents of the Seventh Congressional District of Virginia. While he had plenty of money in the bank, he did not have the field organization necessary to turn people out to vote in the primary After all, elections are pretty simple – you just need to get more people to vote for you than the other guy.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2014, Elections, Politics, State Politics

Tags: , , , ,


No Comments

Comments are not moderated. Notify any abuse at put ABUSE in the subject and the offensive post.

Leave a Reply