Senate wants Cuccinelli to track how attorney general's office spends it time
The Virginia Senate has embedded an item in the two-year state budget approved Thursday that would require the attorney general to adopt a new time-management system to track how his staff members are spending their time.
On a vote of 27 to 13, the senate agreed to direct the attorney general's office to develop procedures to identify projects that take more than 100 hours of staff time and to ask that the state's auditor of public accounts review the office's reports to ensure accuracy.
Several Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City County), joined Democrats in voting for the item, which is one of a series of efforts that the Democratic-led chamber is undertaking to try to curb the power of controversial Republican Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R).
Democrats have demanded that Cuccinelli provide information about how much time his office is spending on a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health-care law. But Cuccinelli has always said the office does not track its staff time in a way that would allow it to disclose that information. He has said costs of the lawsuit are minimal since it is being handled by lawyers already on staff.
If the budget item becomes law, Cuccinelli would have no choice but to provide new information about how his staff is spending its time. But for the new requirement to go into effect, it will have to first survive budget negotiations between the senate and the GOP-led House of Delegates.
The item was included among amendments adopted Thursday to the state's $78 billion budget. The senate also agreed to reduce funding for the attorney general's office, eliminating $184,000 from the office budget intended to fund new positions to aid the attorney general during an upcoming re-districting process.
A spokesman for Cuccinelli declined to comment, noting that the budget document remains in flux.
Though most Republicans resisted the efforts to push back on Cuccinelli's power, they nevertheless largely supported the senate budget once the items were incorporated.
The senate adopted the budget plan in a 37-to-3 vote.
Rosalind S. Helderman
| February 10, 2011; 5:10 PM ET
Categories: General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate
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