Virginia House passes budget with no Democratic support
The House passed its version of the budget along party lines, 61-38, on Thursday. For the first time in years, Democrats voted en masse against it instead of their normal practice of debating and opposing individual amendments.
The chamber's top two Democratic leaders -- Dels. Ward Armstrong and Ken Plum -- said they consider the budget so flawed that they had no choice but to take the drastic step of encouraging their caucus to vote against the entire budget.
Armstrong, the House minority leader, said he would rather "resign my seat than vote for this budget." He was greeted with a standing ovation from Democrats.
Democrats complained that the House budget slashed funding for education, the Virginia Commission for the Arts and health and human resources. Hundreds of state employees would face layoffs, and those who kept their jobs would see their pay frozen for the next two years.
"It is amazing we could not come up with a solution other than the one proposed,'' Del. Delores L. McQuinn (D-Richmond) said.
Democrats, and even some Republicans, said that this session they were shut out of the process, which was guarded even more closely than usual by Speaker Bill Howell, Appropriations Chairman Lacey Putney and Vice Chairman Kirk Cox. Some delegates didn't even know what was in the budget until two days before the budget was introduced on Sunday.
Putney defended the budget, saying it was the best that could be developed during the toughest economic times in his 49 years in the House.
"I know that not everyone shares my belief that the budget before us meets all of the core needs of the Commonwealth,'' he said. "However, I believe that the budget before us today strikes a sensible balance between meeting the core commitments that we as politicians like to talk about and the burden placed on the taxpayers who must foot the bill."
February 25, 2010; 4:53 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates
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