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Virginia Politics Blog: December 12, 2010 - December 18, 2010

Howell announces $275,000 in House savings

As Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed his amendments to the state budget Friday, House Speaker Bill Howell announced that his chamber is saving the state $275,000 in cuts and savings. The savings come from leaving a staff position vacant for nine months, maintaining the 1991-approved 2 percent pay cut in delegates' $17,640-a-year salary and continuing to require that legislative meetings outside of session be held only on certain days and weeks to save unnecessary expenditures. Since 2003, when Howell became speaker, the House has returned over $5.5 million to the general fund, according to his news release. "State lawmakers are not immune from making the same kind of tough decisions to cut costs that all Virginians are grappling with in these tough economic times, and today's $275,000 in new cost savings are further proof that Republicans are serious about reining in government spending," Howell said in his statement. "With the economy...

By Anita Kumar  | December 17, 2010; 4:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Video: Obama reads to Long Branch second graders

President Barack Obama made a surprise stop at Long Branch Elementary School in Arlington on Friday afternoon. "I wanted to come by because it is the holiday season. My girls are getting older now so they don't always let me read to them, so I wanted to borrow you guys and read to you," Obama told the children, many of whom are members of military families stationed at Fort Myer. The president read from his book, "Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters." Their family dog, Bo, makes "a guest appearance," said the president, who then asked the students if they had dogs at home. "I think you guys are going to do great things when you grow up and I feel the same way about my daughters," said the president, who spoke to the children about a few of the people he highlights in his book,...

By Christy Goodman  | December 17, 2010; 4:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Arlington County, Barack Obama, Christy Goodman  
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Report: Thousands of Virginians benefit from federal tax deal

The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis in Richmond releases a report showing that the federal tax compromise would provide a 13-month extension of emergency unemployment benefits to 23,000 Virginians, would allow 53,312 families to receive a tax credit for child care and that 134,459 families would benefit from the improved Earned Income Tax Credit.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 17, 2010; 3:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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O'Malley won't join McDonnell in calling for quick review of federal health law

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has rebuffed an offer by Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) to join him in requesting an expedited Supreme Court review of this week's ruling by a federal judge in Virginia that part of the nation's massive new health law is unconstitutional.

By Washington Post Editors  | December 17, 2010; 12:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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McDonnell raises Va. forecast by $283M, proposes $191M in cuts

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said he will revise the state's revenue forecast upward by $283 million -- $134 million in fiscal year 2011 and $149 million in fiscal year 2012 -- because he expects Virginia to collect more tax revenue over the next two years.

By Anita Kumar  | December 17, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate  | Tags:  Bob McDonnell, Robert F. McDonnell, Virginia  
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Democrats accuse Republicans of playing 'games' on transportation

Last week, state Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins wrote to every Democratic legislator asking them to submit ideas for how to solve the state's transportation problems if they didn't like Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposal to borrow $2.9 billion over the next three years for roads and bridges. Mullins said he would set up a box in the atrium of party headquarters for legislators to drop off proposals. "I'll personally carry each and every idea that you and your colleagues bring to us over to Capitol Square and present them to the Governor,'' he wrote. But his gimmick resulted in a flurry of letters -- not to McDonnell -- but to Mullins this week. "Your party controls two of the three bodies necessary to pass legislation, the House of Delegates and the Governor. The people expect you to lead,'' House Democratic Caucus Chairman Ken Plum wrote in his letter. "I do...

By Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 17, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate, Transportation  
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Cuccinelli has not ruled out gubernatorial run in 2013

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II gave his strongest indication to date that he may consider jumping into the governor's race against fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) in an interview Thursday afternoon on WMRA radio. But in the wide-ranging 30-minute interview on Virginia Insight with Tom Graham, Cuccinelli (R) said he expects to run for reelection in 2013, but he would consider running for governor. "A number of people have asked me about the governor's race and at this point I'm just deferring that,'' Cuccinelli said. "But yes, I do expect to run for reelection but I have not ruled that race out.'' Cuccinelli said he would not join the crowded Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2012. "I do not intend to run for the U.S. Senate in 2012,'' he said. "I'm going to stay right where I am here through 2013." Bolling formed Friends of Bill...

By Anita Kumar  | December 16, 2010; 4:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Bill Bolling, Election 2012, Ken Cuccinelli, U.S. Senate  
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McDonnell proposes spending an additional $30 million on behavioral health

Gov. Bob McDonnell's spending spree continues. McDonnell (R) announced Thursday that he will increase funding for behavioral health and developmental services by nearly $30 million. "While I believe Virginia's behavioral health and developmental services system has come a long way from one that had been largely institutional to one that is now primarily community-based, we still have important work to do to close the gap,'' he said in a statement. "This additional funding is a 'down payment' toward addressing critical concerns and moving Virginia closer to a community-based model of services and supports." His proposal calls for: $9.8 million for 275 Medicaid Waiver slots in fiscal 2012 and ongoing funding to assist in reducing the waiting list for community-based services and providing community alternatives for those living in training centers $5 million to create crisis intervention services across the state for individuals with co-occurring intellectual disability and behavioral disorders $4...

By Anita Kumar  | December 16, 2010; 2:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate  
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McDonnell wants state employees, teachers, to pay into retirement fund

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) Thursday proposed that state employees pick up a larger share of their retirement costs as a way to shore up the Commonwealth's pension system.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 16, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Virginia annnounces program to reduce violent crime

Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker announced Thursday that a successful state pilot program in Richmond will be expanded statewide to reduce violent crime. Operation Rolling Thunder led to a 35 percent decrease in violent crime in Richmond in November 2010, according to city officials. The goal was a 20 percent decrease in robberies. Among the program elements: -- Virginia State Police conducted traffic enforcement operations. -- Alcohol Beverage Control conducted underage drinking operations and club compliance activities in areas where robberies had been occurring. -- Probation and parole officers visited the homes of individuals on probation for robbery and of certified gang members. "Operation Rolling Thunder demonstrates effective use of state and local resources, capturing each agency and department's strengths, to address a specific crime problem,'' Assistant Richmond Police Chief Dave McCoy said....

By Anita Kumar  | December 16, 2010; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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McDonnell to unveil $191 million in budget cuts and savings this week

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said Wednesday that he will slightly revise the state's revenue forecast upward and announce that he estimates that Virginia will collect more tax revenue next year when he addresses the General Assembly's money committees Friday. But, he said, he will still need to find $191 million in cuts and savings. On Wednesday, he announced the first $35 million. McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), the state's chief job creation officer, also announced that they are asking legislators for $54 million for economic development programs, including $25 million for a research and technology innovation fund and money for small businesses, tourism, the film industry and tax credits. To find out how the McDonnell administration spent the $58 million economic development package it received in spring, read our story here. "For the past year I have been focused on creating a 'Commonwealth of Opportunity' for Virginians, and...

By Anita Kumar  | December 15, 2010; 6:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Bill Bolling, Robert F. McDonnell, William Howell  
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Environmentalists want McDonnell to power mansion with renewable energy

Environmentalists brought Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) an early Christmas present Wednesday -- and they brought it right to his front door at the Executive Mansion. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which asked the governor to power his home with renewable energy, chipped in $400 for renewable energy credits. Maureen Riley Matsen, the governor's senior adviser on energy, was on hand to accept an oversized certificate in honor of the purchase. The group is calling on McDonnell to power the mansion with renewable electricity for the rest of his term and supporting a renewable portfolio standard to show that he is serious about bringing offshore wind to the state. "It's time for Governor McDonnell to take concrete action to bring offshore wind to Virginia," the group's executive director Mike Tidwell said. "Governor McDonnell claims to support an 'all-of-the-above' energy plan, but he seems more interested in complaining about the federal government's...

By Anita Kumar  | December 15, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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UPDATED: Cuccinelli appeals to Virginia Supreme Court over U.-Va. global warming request

Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) has formally appealed a judge's September decision setting aside a civil subpoena he served at the University of Virginia, seeking documents related to the work of a former university climate scientist.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 15, 2010; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Health care judge moderated Va. attorney general debate in 2009

U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson, who Monday ruled a key provision of the federal health care law is unconstitutional, moderated a debate a year ago between Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli and Democratic opponent Steve Shannon.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 15, 2010; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race, Election 2009, Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman, Steve Shannon  
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Zimmerman to chair Arlington board, Fisette highlights year

Chris Zimmerman will be named chairman of the Arlington County Board on January 1, announced outgoing chairman Jay Fisette during his year-end report at Tuesday's board meeting. This year makes Zimmerman's fifth time being elected to the board, which he called "a privilege" in comments after he was sworn into the position on Tuesday. The first time he was elected was in 1996. "We have a big agenda ahead of us and that is why I'm still here," said Zimmerman, who will announce his initiatives at the traditional Jan. 1 meeting. Mary Hynes will serve as vice chair, Fisette said. She was first elected to the board in 2007. In his year-end report, Fisette highlighted his initiative, the "transformational" Community Energy Plan, which he said will make Arlington more competitive and attractive to residents and potential businesses. The task force drawing up the plan will have a draft document to...

By Christy Goodman  | December 15, 2010; 2:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Arlington County, Christy Goodman  
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McDonnell proposes ending taxpayer support for public broadcasting

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) proposed ending taxpayer funding of public broadcasting in Virginia on Wednesday, slashing $4 million over the next two years as part of $35 million in budget cuts. McDonnell proposed cutting $2 million in fiscal 2012 and another $2 million in fiscal 2013. "Public broadcasting is a wonderful resource, providing quality programming that is cherished by many,'' McDonnell said in a statement. "However, in our modern media world there are thousands upon thousands of content providers operating in the free market. They compete with each other, and viewers and listeners have their choice as to what to tune into or turn on. Simply put, it doesn't make sense to have some stations with the competitive advantage of being funded by taxpayer dollars. The decision to eliminate state funding of public broadcasting is driven by the fundamental need to reestablish the proper role of government, and budget accordingly."...

By Anita Kumar  | December 15, 2010; 2:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate  
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Webb bill to help Marine widow set to become law

The Japanese widow of a fallen U.S. Marine will finally be allowed to move to America, after the House passed a bill Wednesday granting her relief.

By Ben Pershing  | December 15, 2010; 2:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ben Pershing, James Webb  
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McDonnell didn't give Republican legislators a heads-up on transportation plan

Gov. Bob McDonnell may have missed an opportunity to unveil his proposal to borrow $2.9 billion over the next three years for roads and bridges with unified Republican support already behind it. Last week, before unveiling the proposal Thursday afternoon at a transportation conference in Roanoke, his staff did not brief the House and Senate Republican legislative caucuses. Instead, the governor's office waited until Friday afternoon to send them "talking points" in support of the proposal. But still no briefing. (Privately, a handful of legislators have told us they were upset that they did not get a heads-up). By then, some of them had already publicly stated their concerns that the state is taking on more debt and that a state committee approved a tweak in the model used to determine the state's annual debt capacity. "This administration is in constant communication with the members of both parties regarding our...

By Anita Kumar  | December 15, 2010; 11:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate  
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Alexandria endorses some Mark Center road improvements

The Alexandria City Council unanimously endorsed the seven short- and mid-term road improvements proposed by Virginia transportation planners at the council's Tuesday night meeting. However, there is no money scheduled for the $20 million in projects that would be completed by 2013 in the best-case scenario. The improvements, which include added lanes and ramps, dedicated turning lanes and a pedestrian bridge on I-395, Seminary Road, Mark Center Drive and Beauregard Street, are being sought to handle the 6,400 federal employees being relocated to the area as part of the Base Relocation and Closure (BRAC) process. Long-term improvements expected to cost $80 million to $100 million are closer to 10 to 12 years from happening, said officials. As part of its resolution, the council directed the city manager to seek funding from the Department of Defense and developers of the new Washington Headquarters Service building, as well as other sources....

By Christy Goodman  | December 14, 2010; 10:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Alexandria, Christy Goodman, Transportation  
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Va. health-care ruling will be appealed, Justice Department says

Lawyers for President Obama will appeal a judge's ruling Monday that a key provision of the federal health care law is unconstitutional, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 14, 2010; 3:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Congressmen tell Va. to prioritize VDOT savings for BRAC improvements

Virginia's top Democrats -- U.S. Reps. James P. Moran and Gerald E. Connolly and Sens. Mark R. Warner and James Webb -- sent a letter Tuesday to Gov. Robert McDonnell requesting uncommitted state transportation funds be used for Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) improvements. "We have a large number of unfunded infrastructure requirements across Virginia, and BRAC-related challenges are some of the most pressing. We believe VDOT funds to improve access to BRAC-affected military installations in the Commonwealth would not only greatly alleviate anticipated congestion but also enhance economic development and demonstrate the state's willingness to remain a strong partner in our nation's defense," read the letter. The legislators highlighted the need for road improvements to avoid major delays as 22,000 federal employees relocate to Fort Belvoir, the Mark Center and the Engineering Proving Ground. Hundreds of millions of dollars in uncommitted state transportation funds were found in a September...

By Christy Goodman  | December 14, 2010; 2:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Alexandria, Christy Goodman, Fairfax County, Gerald E. Connolly, James P. Moran Jr., James Webb, Mark Warner, Transportation  
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McDonnell, Cuccinelli praise Hudson's decision on health care

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli have spent the past 24 hours giving a series of national interviews in light of U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson's ruling Monday that a central provision of the law requiring that individuals obtain health insurance by 2014 is unconstitutional. McDonnell told FOX News Channel's Neil Cavuto that the ruling is a positive step for federalism. "This is really a great, positive step for federalism,'' he said. "Ultimately, it is going to take a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm this." See McDonnell's interview below: Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com. Cuccinelli told CNN's John King that he hopes the case goes to the Supreme Court soon because it poses so much uncertainty for the economy. "Knowing the outcome is a benefit to all Americans,'' he said. See Cuccinelli's interview below:...

By Anita Kumar  | December 14, 2010; 12:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Health-care judge says he has no day-to-day involvement with GOP firm

A federal judge who ruled Monday that a key provision of the nation's sweeping health care overhaul is unconstitutional said recently that he had no plans to divest from a Republican campaign consulting firm that he contributed to before joining the bench but that he has no day-to-day involvement with the company.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 14, 2010; 11:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Moran, McAuliffe headline event for Richmond Democrats

Former gubernatorial rivals Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe headlined a fundraiser for the Richmond Democrats on Sunday night. We hear the two men even hugged.

By Anita Kumar  | December 13, 2010; 5:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Brian J. Moran, Terry McAuliffe  
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Cantor, McDonnell call for expedited Supreme Court review of health-care law

U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) are calling on the Obama administration to join Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) in fast-tracking Supreme Court consideration of the constitutionality of the federal health-care law. Those statements are some of a staggering volume of reaction within Virginia to today's ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson that a central provision of the law requiring that individuals obtain health insurance by 2014 is unconstitutional. The federal government can appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. But Cuccinelli has asked them to consider joining him in requesting immediate Supreme Court review. At an afternoon news conference, Cuccinelli said bypassing the appeals court would relieve the country -- and its massive health-care market -- of the uncertainty of a continued lengthy legal battle. Already, Americans face a confused landscaped including 25 challenges to the law. Some have...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 13, 2010; 3:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
 
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Cox selects Gilbert for House deputy majority leader

Va. House of Delegates Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R) selects Todd Gilbert for House deputy majority leader.

By Anita Kumar  | December 13, 2010; 9:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates  
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