Thursday, January 14, 2010

State Budget Crisis Hits Home

The following ran in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and the Mt. Vernon Voice on January 14, 2009.

This session marks the worst state budget since the Great Depression. Gov. Kaine leaves office as the first governor in a long time to have a smaller budget than when he entered four years earlier.

When I started college in 1989, I remember Virginia going through a bad recession and the pain that it caused at my college, James Madison University. Programs and construction was cancelled and my parents received bills for tuition surcharges in the middle of the year. The General Assembly sessions became so contentious that people in the same party did not speak to each other for years after it was over because of the cuts that occurred. That crisis was part of what motivated me to closely follow state politics my entire life.

At the Fairfax County public hearing last week, we heard from over 70 people and dozens of groups that were staring changed lives in the face due to what is coming. We heard from the physically and mentally disabled who depend on Medicaid for home care, advocates for the homeless, domestic violence prevention programs that work, and from advocates for education. I have also met with at least six Mount Vernon PTAs regarding the proposed changes to our school system. These changes are not acceptable to me. And of course none of this even begins to address our crisis in transportation.

I do not believe that Gov. Kaine’s proposed budget fairly allocates the burdens of this budget upon Virginians either by region or by need. Going forward, we need to ensure that we do not punish our most vulnerable or place the budget of budget cuts on those with the least ability to pay.

I am also deeply concerned that the state will try to balance this budget by disproportionately using money from Northern Virginia. We cannot continue to be the piggy bank for the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. In times of crisis, everyone needs to get in the boat and pull on the oars.

I have created a blog called The Dixie Pig to communicate my views on issues of interest to the district. It is currently located at I have requested 26 pieces of legislation for drafting. I expect to introduce 15-to-20 bills. You can find more information regarding my agenda there or on my Web site at Please contact my office via telephone or email if you have any questions during the session.

It is an honor to represent this community in Richmond. I look forward to fighting for you as this session unfolds.

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