WCVE analyst and RTD columnist Jeff Schapiro weighs in on General Assembly's ethics reform package, the relatively uncontentious budget process, and an unusal political fundraiser.
The House and Senate debated and passed their amended budgets yesterday(Feb. 12).
While revenue collections are slightly up in recent weeks, overall spending is down over a billion dollars since the two-year budget was enacted in 2014.
Both spending plans add pay raises for state workers and eliminate new and increased business fees proposed by Governor Terry McAuliffe.
House leaders say instead of creating new programs they chose to reinvest in core functions of government.
Democrats say the budget does not do enough to advance kitchen table issues.
In a Wason poll released this morning (Feb. 12), Hillary Clinton continues to lead the field in potential presidential candiates for 2016. In the new poll, Hillary Clinton polls 65% among pontential Democratic voters.
Jeb Bush comes closest with 43 percent to her 48 percent in that matchup. Nobody else is close. Republicans are still not sure who they like among their parties candidates. At present it is Bush 20, Scott Walker 16, and Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie both at 10.
The state Senate has passed several bills this session taking different approaches to change the way Virginia draws its state legislative and congressional districts to an independent or bipartisan process.
Currently, the state constitution gives the General Assembly the power to draw its own districts, as well as those for Virginia's 11 congressional seats.
The issue is political, but not along the typical partisan breakdown. Members of both parties use the system to their own advantage when they hold a majority.
The House of Delegates and state Senate have passed omnibus ethics reform bills that would cap gifts to lawmakers and their families at 100 dollars, with additional limits for gifts to the Governor.
While lawmakers acknowledge they must pass something to regain the public’s trust after the Bob McDonnell trial in the Senate at least, they’re not very happy with the bill they passed yesterday.