Monday, March 24, 2008

Who's Bad For Business???

You guessed it ...

The Democratic Caucus!

After some careful research and analysis I have found the Top 6 "Bad For Business" (AKA DUMBEST!) bills of 2008. I thought Virginia's thriving business community would be very interested to see just how anti-business our friends on the other side of the aisle are...

1. HB 852 – Collective Bargaining
(Delegate Adam Ebbin, D-Arlington)

  • This would have repealed Virginia's 15-year old statutory ban on public-sector union monopoly bargaining.
  • Union officials who have been granted the exclusive power to speak for union nonmembers as well as members in contract negotiations regularly cite that power as a pretext for enacting additional anti-Right to Work legislation that forces union nonmembers to pay dues or fees to the union into which they have been corralled. Virginia’s Right to Work laws have been repeatedly cited when receiving national accolades such as the Best State for Business.

2. SB 161 - Binding Arbitration in Workers Compensation
(Senator A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico)

  • This would have permitted a union the authority to negotiate with employers to establish a totally separate workers compensation system for employees of unionized construction shops.
  • It infringes on non-union workers’ right to work for employers agreeing to collective bargaining agreements with an arbitration clause permitted in this bill. Basically, non-union workers would have no choice.
  • Every Democrat member of the House and Senate voted in favor of the bill, even though the Associated General Contractors of Virginia - the business group effected by this bill - was opposed. They instead chose to side with the AFL-CIO who endorsed the bill.

3. HB 599 - Unemployment for Employed Workers
(Delegate Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond)

  • This would have allowed people who were engaged in temporary work to continue to receive unemployment compensation.
  • Carving out exemptions in the unemployment compensation system undercuts the integrity of the system and allows people to circumvent the rules. By being able to double dip with employment pay and unemployment compensation, these carved-out recipients burden businesses paying into the system.

4. HB 733 - Restroom Access Penalties
(Delegate Chuck Caputo, D-Fairfax)

  • This would have created a penalty if a business does not allow certain customers to use their employees’ restroom.
  • Providing greater demands on business combined with the threat of fines is not the proper method of cultivating a sound business environment.

5. HB 1230 - Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting
(Delegate Margaret Vanderhye, D-Fairfax)

  • This bill would have required any business emitting greenhouse gases from a facility to record and report on those emissions as well as on the emissions from their motor vehicle fleet.
  • Additional regulatory burdens on businesses on top of the current EPA and state regulations are unnecessary and in this case, serve no public policy purpose.

6. SB 713 - Gas Tax Increase
(Senator Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax)

  • Increasing the tax on motor fuels by five cents over five years when gasoline prices are at all-time highs and growing makes little sense.
  • In an economy increasingly reliant on on-time delivery and the mobility of goods and services, increasing the cost of doing business means less capital available for growth and after passing the cost on to consumers, less disposable income to spend in the economy.

Thank goodness we have some down to earth legislators in the Republican House Caucus to kill these bills and keep Virginia's businesses among the top in the nation...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Conservative Budget Highlights!


  • With an overall spending increase lower than the rate of population growth and inflation, Virginia’s 2008-2010 Budget is fiscally responsible, structurally balanced and limited to the core services of government.

    · These features make Virginia’s newest spending plan one of the leanest, most fiscally conservative in modern times.

  • Of great importance to Virginia’s taxpayers, the 2008-2010 Budget does not raise taxes.

    · By avoiding this too-often-utilized remedy to challenging fiscal times, the spending plan better equips the Commonwealth’s economy for greater prosperity and robust future growth.

  • The plan slows the growth of overall spending, actually reducing expenditures in some instances by eliminating underperforming government programs. For example,

    · Hard-to-Staff Schools
    · Turn-Around Specialists
    · Leadership Development Grants
    · Career Switcher Mentor Program
    · Education for a Lifetime Program

  • It reduces the withdrawal from the Rainy Day Fund proposed by Governor Kaine by 30%.

    · Although the Governor wanted to make a maximum withdrawal of $423 million, the final budget agreement limited the withdrawal to $296 million.

  • The plan incurs less debt than either the Governor’s introduced budget or the budget approved by the Senate – amounting to approximately $1.9 billion less debt.

    · Although the Governor wanted approximately $2.3 billion in tax-supported debt, the final budget agreement includes $478 million

  • It also requires annual reductions of $17.5 million for state agencies and $50 million for local governments.

  • The final budget agreement includes provisions to keep tuition and fee increases for in-state undergraduates to no more than 3%.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Saslaw Turns His Back On NOVA And Hampton Roads!

Just as I suspected ... Senator Saslaw is once again putting partisan politics as his top priority, while turning his back Virginians and more particularly, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

The basic differences (which are also pointed out in the press release below) are that the Senate is ....

  1. Unnecessarily jeopardizing and delaying regional transportation funding.
  2. Costing Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads $1 Million for transportation for EVERY DAY of inaction.
  3. Wanting to "stiff" Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads of their fair share of transportation funds by sending billions of dollars downstate to Richmond, only to see 1/3 of it come back.

As Delegate Dave Albo so eloquently stated below ... "Bringing up new statewide revenues and tax increases that have been repeatedly rejected isn’t negotiating, it’s posturing."

I could not agree more.

UPDATE: Word in the GAB is that a transportation compromise could be reached within 24hrs if the Senator in purple shown above will quit playing games and start doing the good peoples work ...

House Transportation NegotiatorsFocus on Regional Fix to Comply with Court Decision

RICHMOND, VA – In a letter to Senators Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), Yvonne B. Miller (D-Norfolk), and W. Roscoe Reynolds (D-Martinsville), negotiators for the House of Delegates rejected the proposal of the Democrat Senators to increase taxes statewide on gasoline and on vehicle sales. Delegates H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem), M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox (R-Colonial Heights), and Samuel A. Nixon, Jr. (R-Chesterfield) have been working diligently to bring the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regional funding components of the Comprehensive Transportation Funding and Reform Act of 2007 (HB 3202) into compliance with the decision of the Virginia Supreme Court in Marshall v. NVTA .

Wanting to resolve the impasse as quickly as possible, House negotiators are insisting that negotiations be focused on correcting those provisions of HB 3202 that were struck down by the Court’s decision. Their letter notes, “An immediate remedy to this specific problem is readily available to us. Injecting issues unrelated to the ‘regional fix’ necessitated by the Court’s decision will deny the benefits of those previously approved regional solutions to commuters, families and businesses in our Commonwealth’s fastest-growing regions.”

House negotiators place the responsibility for any delay in approving a speedy remedy squarely with their Senate counterparts, taking them to task for seeking to expand the scope of the legislative discussions. “Unfortunately, you raise issues that go well beyond remedying the effects of the Virginia Supreme Court’s decision in Marshall v. NVTA ,” the letter, signed by all three delegates, observed. “By doing so, you are needlessly delaying and jeopardizing implementation of the regional transportation funding program that we approved on a bipartisan basis just last year.”

“There’s absolutely no reason to delay resolving this situation,” declared Delegate David B. Albo (R-Fairfax). “Bringing up new statewide revenues and tax increases that have been repeatedly rejected isn’t negotiating, it’s posturing. Every day they fail to agree to a fix, Northern Virginia loses $1,000,000 in revenues for roads and public transit. By revisiting already rejected proposals, the Senators are keeping my constituents – and millions living, working and commuting in Northern Virginia – needlessly stuck in traffic.”

“Although I can appreciate the desire of the Senators to get as much as they can in these negotiations, and I know these three Democrat Senators have frequently expressed support for higher taxes, the Court’s decision did not say ‘raise the gas tax and the car sales tax’,” noted House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith. “It said we needed to change the method of enactment for the regional components of HB 3202 to ensure a body of elected officials imposed the taxes. That – and that alone – should be the focus of our negotiations.”

# # #

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Earlier today Delegate Phil Hamilton issued an excellent press release stating the differences between the House Budget and the Senate Budget. I thought everyone would be interested to see the lack of desire that Senate Leadership has to work out a swift budget resolution.

Priorities Define Budget Talks

RICHMOND, VA - After five days of budget talks, it is clear that this year's budget negotiations revolve around five major differences. House negotiators, dominated by Republicans, have identified two major priorities, while Senate negotiators, dominated by Democrats, have identified three major priorities.

The primary priorities of House negotiators are 1) to increase the number of service waivers for the mentally retarded by an additional 650 waivers above the 150 waivers recommended by Governor Kaine, and 2) to provide a first year pay raise for teachers paid from a rebenchmarking methodology change and a first year pay raise for state employees and college faculty paid for from the overpayments to the state's employee health insurance fund.

Senate negotiators have identified three major priorities. These are 1) expand non-mandated preschool programs, 2) provide jail diversion and prison reentry programs for convicted criminals, and 3) continue to fund Drug Courts.

Prior to the first meeting Senate negotiators set the tone when Senate majority leader, Richard Saslaw declared he was prepared "to stay until December" and Senator Janet Howell stated that she "would never agree" to the methodology change being proposed by the House budget.

Although no such statements or "lines in the sand" have been offered by House negotiators, they have made it very clear that first year pay raises for teachers, state employees, etc... and additional assistance for the mentally retarded were higher priorities than expanded programs for four-year olds, criminals, and citizens with drug problems.

Hopeful that a budget resolution will be reached by Saturday, Delegate Phillip Hamilton (R-Newport News) said, "The state budget defines the General Assembly's priorities. While there are many issues that must be addressed, the expressed priorities and attitudes of delay and intransigence of some Senate negotiators cause me to question the seriousness by which they are working to resolve honest, philosophical differences on funding the core service functions of state government."

Monday, March 3, 2008

Delegate Peace Sets The Record Straight On Education Funding!

In Sunday's Richmond Times-Dispatch, Delegate Peace had a sensational column citing the House Budget and its funding for K-12 Education. He identifies numerous differences between the House Budget and the Education Funding shortages that seem to be the theme of the Senate and Governor's budgets.

Delegate Peace cites the following differences:

1. The House budget gives teachers a raise in the first year (2008), unlike the Senate or Governors budget.

2. The House budget protects and invests more money in school construction and puts a greater amount of funding into classrooms and K-12 education than the Senate or Governor's budget.

3. The House budget increases funding for K-12 by more than $1 billion--that is $68 million more than the Senate and $193 million more than the Governor proposes.

4. The House budget increases school construction grants by $70 million, while the Governor's budget cuts the same grants by $220 million.

Even with MORE OVERALL FUNDING than both the Senate and Governor's budget proposals, the Democrats are still claiming that House Republicans are cutting education funding!!

Sounds to me like Delegate Peace needs to give the Democratic Caucus some basic arithmetic lessons...

House Dems Try Again, and Thankfully Fail!

Last Friday on the House Floor was yet another example of why Virginians across the state are very fortunate to have a Republican Majority in the House of Delegates.

SB 161 came over from the Democratic controlled Senate chamber and was the second attempt this session to allow businesses in the Commonwealth to unionize. Virginia is currently one of 22 states in the nation that is conisdered to be a "Right-to-Work" state and has been since 1947. Thankfully Delegate Jimmy Massie spoke against this bill and brought all of it's many flaws to light ...

Senator Donald McEachin is the Senate patron of this bill. He is serving his first term as Senator from Richmond, and it is my hope that he will find something more productive to do with his time than to pursue legislation that would eliminate a statute that has made Virginia such a prosperous state.