Senate Democrats “No” Vote on Budget is about People, not Politics

Senate Democrats join together to tell Senate Republicans that they will not vote in favor of the budget until they stop the raid on public education and end their radical social agenda 

At an afternoon press conference today, Senate Democrats detailed their policy criticisms of the Republican Senate budget.

Since Day One of this Session, Republicans have pushed an extreme, partisan agenda that adversely affects our children, gay and lesbian Virginians, women, and minorities. From personhood and mandatory ultrasounds to a budget that defunds support for Virginians in nursing homes, Republicans are consistently overreaching.

Senator Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said, “First of all, this is nothing new. Four years ago, every single Republican voted against the budget. In 2004 the Republicans held up the budget until May. In 2008 the Republicans held up the budget until June. We still have four months to go.

“Second, there are a lot of things this budget doesn’t do right. There’s money left over from the housing settlement. That should go to the housing trust fund. We don’t want to kick 4,500 senior citizens off Medicaid. And we shouldn’t be sending taxpayer dollars to private academies,” Senator Saslaw added.

Senator Henry Marsh (D-Richmond) said, “Taking money from the general fund and give it to private academies is one of the most damaging things proposed by Republicans in the last 50 years. I will not vote for a budget that takes us so far backward.”

Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) said, “Things are going awry in the Virginia Senate. The results of the Republican power grab is clear: in a mere six weeks Virginia is becoming a national joke. Women’s rights are being trampled. Voting rights are being suppressed. And guns are going to be available in unlimited numbers. The budget does not reflect my priorities. Education spending is far too low. Investments in healthcare are inadequate. And there is no additional funding for Phase II of Dulles Metrorail. ”

Senator Toddy Puller (D-Mount Vernon) said, “This budget is nothing less than an assault on public education. We shouldn’t be giving $25 million to exclusive private academies. We should be using that money to invest in public schools.”

Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) said, “The Republican Senate budget funds
yesterday’s education system, not tomorrow’s. The current Senate budget proposes to fund K-12 education at $400M less than we spent in 2007. This approach compromises our future. Education funding in Virginia has been continually reduced, school enrollment is up, and we are seeing consequences. In 2007, only two states had a smaller class size than Virginia. Today, 40 states have smaller class sizes. The Dept. of Education says that class size is one of the most important factors in student outcome.”

Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) said, “We’re funding yesterday’s education needs, not today’s. Why should we send over $20 million dollars to fund exclusive private academies when we could put that money to work in our public schools?”

Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) said, “Our ‘no’ vote on the Senate budget was about people, not politics. The budget does not adequately address the needs of our children, the elderly, and the poor. The budget does not reflect the values of Virginians. Democrats are fighting for a budget that protects children and families and prepared Virginia for a prosperous future.”

Senator Phil Puckett (D-Russell) said, “Let me tell you as a former elementary school teacher and principal, it’s impossible to put too much value having an environment in which children can learn and the teacher can teach. But here in the Senate we’ve seen classroom size increase while funding gets cut down to 2007 levels. We need to see more respect for our teachers, and a greater sense of responsibility among some legislators.”

Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun) said, “The Senate Republican budget was completely silent on funding for this project. With tolls on the Dulles Toll Road projected to reach $6.75 by 2018 for a one-way trip, Northern Virginians expect the state to step up with a significant contribution in order to keep tolls from spiraling out of control.”

“Yesterday, a one of our Republican colleagues threatened to remove $42 million of cost-of-competing money from the Republican Senate budget. That is budget blackmail and it is the kind of partisan maneuvering that is preventing us from moving forward. It is the kind of political gamesmanship that is preventing Democrats and Republicans from having a truly bipartisan discussion about our Commonwealth’s priorities,” added Senator Herring.

Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) said, “Hampton Roads is at risk of becoming ground zero for tolls, and tolls are just another name for taxes. Virginia is on the road to becoming a toll-heavy state, and I will never vote for a budget that makes the region I represent ground zero for tolls.

Senator Dave Marsden (D-Burke) said, “I am still waiting for serious transportation solutions for Virginia. In the House budget, we have a diversion of sales tax —money that’s used for our kids education, health care, and public safety — and puts it into roads. In the Senate, we did a little better — we got some indexing of the gas tax. But we are drowning in congestion in Northern Virginia. And the Senate Republicans, the House Republicans, and the Governor aren’t creating the solutions. I am still waiting for a transportation fix, and Northern Virginia waits with me."

Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) said, “Many people have asked me over the last week, ‘Why are Democrats voting against the budget?’ Well, I think my colleagues have shared that with you today. We’re the party of education. We’re not going support a budget that funds education at a per-pupil basis at a lower level than 2007 — and simultaneously send money to private academies. We’re not going to support a budget that allows the Board of Election to suppress the vote under SB1. Not today, not tomorrow, not next year.”

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