All along, the idea of a “clean budget” was BS. What unfolded last night in the Virginia Senate was further proof.
The only thing “clean” about this budget is that Senate Democrats got their clocks cleaned.
You can trace the failure back to redistricting. Senate Democrats drew lines that cost them seats. As much as I prefer redistricting to be out of the hands of legislators, until that happens, this is the process we have to deal with. So House Republicans drew lines that enhanced their majority while Senate Democrats did the opposite. Somebody quipped to me last night that we already have bipartisan redistricting in Virgina, at least in the Senate. An evenly divided Senate was the result.
But then we had the Puckett fisaco. Seems like no one – at least on the Democratic side – saw this coming. Look – if I were in the Republican’s shoes, I’d have been trying to figure out how to take out a Democratic senator, too. And let’s be perfectly honest: dangling a high-paying job is a perfect way to pull it off. The judgeship for his daughter was just icing on the cake. Puckett may not have taken the job this week, but keep your eyes open: it’ll happen in a few months, when the furor dies down. (And if it doesn’t, then Republicans got an even better bargain than they hoped – free is always good.)
Closing the coverage gap – extending health care to some 400,000 Virginians – isn’t going to happen. There is no political will – nor political power – in Richmond to do so. Remember – all 20 Senate Republicans, including those who supported Marketplace Virginia – signed on to the Stanley amendment. I never expected the governor to try to use an executive order – and the amendment last night makes it clear that he lacks the authority to do so.
I will be absolutely shocked if the governor vetoes this budget. Virginia’s localities rely too much on funding from Richmond to delay the budget process any further. Deteriorating financial conditions – who in the hell thought the 2012 capital gains would continue into 2013? – have just added to the pressure.
Political trumps policy often. This is one of those times.
I just feel sorry for the 400,000 Virginians who lost out.