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Kaine Berates Legislators

Anita Kumar

A handful of legislators traditionally walk to the governor's third-floor Capitol office when the House and Senate are ready to adjourn a session. In the last year or two, Kaine and legislators have ignored the largely symbolic practice.

But last night when legislators were ready to adjourn their one-day session they decided to stick with tradition, partly out of respect for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and what is likely to be his last session during his four-year term.

Afterwards, some Republicans wished they skipped the event.

A visibly angry and red faced Kaine berated legislators for narrowly rejecting $125 million in federal stimulus money that would have provided additional unemployment benefits to thousands of jobless Virginians.

"I just can't imagine why we would leave $125 million...on the table," Kaine said. "There's an awful lot of people who are hurting in Virginia...and the message to them seemed to be: 'We don't care. Fend for yourself,' " he said.

Kaine did thank legislators for their work on the $77 billion state budget, and for upholding his vetoes on a variety of death penalty and gun bills. But he spent the most time complaining about their failure to change state law to accept the stimulus money.

"This was not about the federal government. This was not about an ideological battle with some distant foe. This is about looking in the eyes of Virginians who have lost their jobs,'' Kaine said. "The notion that this was just some jolly ideological crusade to shake our fist at someone (in Washington) is just such a misunderstanding of what this job is."

Republicans did not respond directly, but later complained that Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was playing politics.

"This was a speech from Obama's DNC chairman saying that, despite the recession, he wants to raise taxes on every business in Virginia," Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) said. . . .

By Anita Kumar  |  April 9, 2009; 10:12 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2009 , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Comments

This is a defining moment for Bob McDonnell and Virginia's Republicans. When unemployed Virginians were counting on McDonnell and the GOP to stand up for them, they said, "No, you're on your own."

I have the names and telephone numbers of the Delegates and how they voted on my blog. Remember in November. http://bit.ly/GFPY8

Posted by: fakevirginia | April 9, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

This piece barely mentions it (surprise) but this was about changing state law that would amount to an unfunded federal mandate once that 125 dries up.
That is why the Republicans opposed this. Good for them!

Posted by: steveincville | April 9, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Right, steveinceville, state law would have had to change to become more fair and more comparable to other states in dealing with a small additional pool of unemployed people. Total cost absolutely minimal. I am so ashamed Virginia's Republican legislators couldn't step away from their lock-step ideology for a minute and think about the needs of actual Virginians.

Now we know they value their bumpersticker slogans and partisan ax-grinding more than $125 million of desperately needed benefits to their own constituents here in Virginia. Now we know. And I can assure you we will not let the public ever, ever, ever forget it.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | April 9, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

steveincville, it's ok for Lockheed to recieve money for a plane with buggy software but your out of work country men and women should not recieve money because it may raise taxes in the future.
If Virginians don't vote these people out they deserve what they get.
simple as that!

Posted by: shamken | April 9, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans think that it will hurt businesses because their unemployment insurance tax would increase 38 cents per worker per month -- if the economy wouldn't recover after two years. You can judge if that would be an undue burden on Virginia businesses.

Posted by: sensible | April 9, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

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