Speaking to a sold-out Fairfax County Democratic Committee “Road to Richmond” breakfast in Springfield today, Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova urged the numerous state senators and delegates present to avoid making deep cuts in the state budget by passing on expenses to county and city jurisdictions.
Citing Fairfax County’s anticipated $316 million budget shortfall going into the new year, with an added $176 million shortfall confronting the county’s school system, Bulova urged the state legislature, also facing a $4 billion shortfall at the state level, to consider three “principles” as she outlined them: 1. don’t shift the state’s shortfall burden to localities, 2. don’t make long-term structural changes in the relationship between the state and localities, and 3. don’t shift the so-called “Composite Index” to the disadvantage of Fairfax County and other regional jurisdictions.
“I am hopeful that a year from now, we will be able to say that, in the face of the budget difficulties, we took care of people and funded the things that mattered most,” she said.
Falls Church’s two representatives in Richmond, State Sen.Mary Margaret Whipple and State Del. Jim Scott, each represented their delegations from the region in remarks to the function. Whipple said that Gov, Tim Kaine’s proposal to eliminate the so-called car tax benefit to raise $1.9 billion toward closing the state’s gap “is not likely to occur” (due to opposition by the new Republican Gov.-elect McDonnell), meaning that another $1.9 billion in cuts beyond Kaine’s already-drastic proposals may occur. “We may be looking at a different kind of commonwealth,” she said, noting that in the area of education, McDonnell favors charter schools and vouchers.
Scott focused on the task of redistricting that will face the legislature in 2011, saying that “for the first time ever in Virginia, redistricting will be done with one party having the majority in one house (the state senate–ed.) and the other in the other house.” He said he’s hopeful that, in that situation, “a reasonable fair partisan redistricting effort” will occur.
Much attention at the event was paid to the upcoming Jan. 10 special election to fill the vacated seat in the 37th Senate district, and an upcoming special election to fill the vacated county school board seat in the Mason District.
Democats heaving to Richmond for the first time this month include Scott Surovel, Mark Keam and Kay Kory. All the legislators entering new terms will be officially sworn in on Jan. 13.