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Democrats call for budget guidance, as McDonnell prepares for big speech

Rosalind Helderman

As Gov. Bob McDonnell prepares for his big national debut this evening, he continues to face criticism from Democrats at home for not putting forward his ideas on how the General Assembly should close Virginia's $4 billion, two-year budget shortfall.

Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) took to the Senate floor today to blast McDonnell for taking time to address the nation about the state of its union before offering guidance on cutting the state's budget.

"I have to tell you I have a problem with the notion that he says he's only been in office a short time and he can't get it all together in that short of a time," McEachin said. "Nevermind the fact that other governors have done the very same thing. This governor knew what he was signing up for when he ran for this office. He ran for this office for months -- if not years."

"I'll tell you the other reason I have a problem with that," McEachin went on. "Tonight, by virtue of the fact that he is the governor of the commonwealth of Virginia, he's been called on to give a response to the State of the Union. He's going to give a response having been in office for two weeks, on a country that goes from sea to shining sea. He's going to be talking about a budget that has a nearly trillion-dollar deficit. He's going to be talking about, potentially, wars in foreign countries. He's had enough time to be able to talk to us about the state of the union. But he hasn't had enough time to talk to tell me and the 9th Senatorial District or my colleagues on this floor about $4 billion in cuts?"

McDonnell's Republican colleagues rose to defend him.

Sen. William C. Wampler Jr. (R-Bristol) referenced similar waits by the General Assembly for revised revenue projections from Gov. Tim Kaine (D) necessary to construct the budget in past years -- projections which turned out to be off the mark. "Timeliness is important," he said. "But more important than that, I would say, is accuracy."

And Senate Minority leader Tommy Norment J. (R-James City) praised McDonnell for his efforts to reach out to both parties to cut the budget, and called for bipartisanship.

"I would say to you that in the small meetings we have had that are necessitated by the legislative process, that the governor has invited the leadership from both sides of the aisles, from both ends of the Capitol, to breakfast. He has met with the House and Senate conferees. And in each of those instances, he has not sparked one word of partisanship. In fact, he has repeatedly said, 'I'm going to keep you all informed of what I'm doing. And, secondly, I want to work collaboratively with you.' .... I, without being disingenuous to any governor of any party, have not seen this ecumenical an outreach on a repeated basis at this stage, particularly following a campaign."

As the floor session broke, Norment and Sen. John Watkins (R-Chesterfield) strolled over to McEachin, laughing. "You know who gave the State of the Union response four years ago?" asked Watkins.

"Governor Kaine, I'd guess. But he got the budget in on time!" McEachin responded.

"Only because I helped him!" Norment responded with a laugh.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  January 27, 2010; 2:33 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Next: In the 5th Congressional District: A candidate who's in it to win


"He's going to give a response having been in office for two weeks, on a country that goes from sea to shining sea."

As opposed to a president who was in office for two weeks before being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize?

Posted by: JTR555 | January 27, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

McDonnell has no plan. Besides, the south-state delegates will tell him what to do.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 27, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

How about a budget, Bob?

Posted by: jeffersonian1 | January 27, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

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