General Assembly Votes on Governor's Ammendments
Today the General Assembly will reconvene to vote on Governor McDonnell’s 123 ammendments to bills passed this session, including the state budget.
Among the significant amendments is a six million dollar increase to the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, which is used to lure out of state businesses to relocate to Virginia.
In addition McDonnell has rejected language passed by the General Assembly that would have allowed localities the option of requiring employees to pay a percentage into their pension fund.
The Governor has also proposed increasing speeding fines by 1 dollar for each mile per hour over the speed limit to help pay for some of his new spending initiatives.
Republican Delegate Tim Hugo of Fairfax.
Hugo: I think it’s going to be an interesting afternoon, and I think there’ll be a lot of...there'll be some interesting topics and many of them will not be partisan but more regional. Looking at a lot of the Governor’s amendments, if you look at them, they’re focused on job creation which I think continues the theme he ran on and Ryan, Senator McDougle, and I worked on through the General Assembly session. I mean we're looking at job creation, investment. And I think if look you at the overwhelming number of ammendments, that's really what they're focused on.
Republican Senator Ryan McDougle of Mechanicsville.
McDougle: I would say with this being my ninth reconvened session, previous sessions we’ve frequently had a number of controversial issues, most of the amendments which have been made are more technical and housekeeping or trying to make policies better as opposed to any wholesale changes. And certainly, this governor has issued no Vetoes, which I would say would certainly lead to a faster session tomorrow and less contention, but we are legislators and I would say there will be some debate on some of the issues going forward.
Democratic Delegate Jennifer McClellan of Richmond, said she was concerned by another amendment which would completely eliminate state funding for public broadcasting over the next four years.
McClellan: Public Broadcasting and Radio have been cut over the years and I think they are a vital part of our education system and our news system. And I’m worried that if we keep cutting them to the point where they’re on their own, then they’re not going to survive. In a world where we have so many profit driven news outlets, it’s nice to know that you have one that isn’t and when you combine that with how much public broadcasting does for our school systems, I think we need to do all that we can to make sure they survive and that means giving them adequate funding.
One key state official will most likely be missing for the one-day session. Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling has been stranded in Florence, Italy due to the grounding of flights all over Europe because of the huge clouds of Ash from Volcanic Eruptions in Iceland. Bolling had traveled abroad to speak at a symposium on job creation sponsored by James Madison Universitiy's Italian campus and the city of Florence. In the event of his absence, Senate Pro-Tem Chuck Colgan will preside over the session.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square.