Columnist Jeff Schapiro analyzes Virginia political news for 88.9 WCVE. This week, a way out of the state budget stalemate may have been found. A budget must be adopted by June 30.
Republican State Senator Emmett Hanger of Augusta sent a letter to House of Delegates Appropriations Chairman, Republican Chris Jones of Suffolk that could move the General Assembly closer to a deal on the state budget.
In the letter Hanger, a supporter of Medicaid expansion who chairs the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission or MIRC, proposes that the Senate decouple Medicaid expansion from the budget in exchange for reforming the MIRC so it can no longer block Medicaid expansion.
Virginia’s two Senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are joining a growing number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down. Craig Carper reports. Senator Kaine says the latest revelations from Wednesday’s Inspector General’s report demonstrate the systemic nature of the problems at the VA. Senator Warner says while he believes General Shinseki has served with honor, there is no excuse for the current state of affairs for veterans seeking treatment.
At a campaign kickoff event at 804RVA in Richmond, Senator Mark Warner struck a confident tone about his chances for re-election in November, regardless of who the Republicans nominate to challenge him. Warner made his case yesterday to tech professionals and other supporters why Virginians should rehire him as Senator. The former Governor says whoever his Republican opponent is, their message will be predictable. The 4 Republican rivals hoping to succeed Warner, Ed Gillespie, Tony DeTora, Chuck Moss and Shak Hill will face off at the state party convention in Roanoke on June 7th.
Congressman Eric Cantor’s Republican primary challenger Dave Brat is asking him to reveal the names of all of the corporate executives, donors and lobbyists he and his staff have met with to discuss immigration reform. Brat says a recent mailer Cantor has circulated among his constituents which states his opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants is false. Brat says guest worker programs that Cantor supports will take jobs away from struggling Virginia families.
A group of advocates for immigration reform gathered at the state capitol yesterday to urge Congressman Eric Cantor to call a vote on the issue. As Majority Leader, Cantor sets the schedule for the House of Representatives and decides what legislation will go to the floor for debate.
The Richmond City Council has approved an amended version of Mayor Jones' $786 million budget. Council included bonuses for all city employees, investments in career and professional development for police and firefighters, $3 million for the riverfront plan, $1.8 million for vehicle replacement.
Councilman Parker Agelasto says the strongest statement Council made with the budget was fully funding the school board’s request for an additional $4 million for operations and $7 million for capital improvement.
15 minutes before last night’s Richmond City Council meeting, Mayor Dwight Jones withdrew his Shockoe Bottom ballpark proposal from consideration after a majority of council members expressed opposition to it.
Councilman Parker Agelasto believes many of the financial details of the Mayor’s plan were overly optimistic.
Councilman Jon Baliles says the plan put a moral obligation on the city that he was uncomfortable with. Baliles says Council members will have to meet with the administration to decide where the money set aside for the Shockoe project will now go.
The Richmond City Council Committee on Land Use has sent the ordinance which would pave the way for a Shockoe Bottom stadium to the full Council with no recommendation. The committee heard presentations on traffic and parking options for the ballpark complex. City officials estimate that the neighborhood will require $3.5 million in public and private funds to widen streets, divert traffic and improve signals.
Council members expect to know more by Tuesday’s meeting.
Democratic Delegate Joe Morrissey of Henrico is the second Richmond legislator this week to challenge the legality of Mayor Jones’ Shockoe Bottom redevelopment plan. Morrissey is joining Republican Delegate Manoli Loupassi of Richmond in asking House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones to require that any state dollars for Shockoe development be contingent on all of the projects being open bid. He says if Jones does not include this stipulation in the budget amendments will likely be offered on the floor.