Governor Bob McDonnell, speaking with reporters after the vote, was not amused, commenting, "Today, Senate Democrats cast the most fiscally reckless vote I have witnessed in my 21 years in office." Read the rest of his remarks here.
Lt. Governor Bill Bolling (R) expressed the disappointment of many:
"I am extremely disappointed that Senate Democrats have once again voted against the adoption of a state budget. Their actions are indefensible and a abdication of responsibility. They are playing a game of high stakes brinkmanship that puts in jeopardy $85B in funding for critical state government programs. This is not the kind of leadership the people of Virginia expect or deserve from their elected officials."Republicans worked hard to compromise and get a budget passed.
But not Democrats.
Virginia Democrats have not been happy since the November 2011 elections ended with an evenly split Senate and a Republican Lieutenant Governor to cast tie votes. They filed a lawsuit and, at the time, said they would not pass a budget unless they got their committee assignments back.
Democratic Sen. Chap Petersen noted, "The Senate Democrats today kicked off the beginning of a process -- the process to re-balance the structure of the Senate so that it reflects the Senate membership and the Commonwealth's actual voting population...."
Apparently even the news outlets were surprised at the juvenile reaction of the Democrats to losing control of the Senate. The Washington Post and other editorial boards wrote about it which caused Democrats to make a case that it was about education.
The editorial noted, "...The few, flimsy objections Democrats have raised about the budget are a smokescreen. Their real issue is power-sharing: Democrats want it; Republicans won't give it..."
The reaction from Democrats: "Democrats said Wednesday they would divorce their demand for more power in the Virginia Senate from the effort to pass a state budget, as members of the General Assembly returned to Richmond for a special session..."
Democrats got more money for education as noted in the Washington Times: "... In the process, Democrats secured $214 million more for education, including $40 million for Northern Virginia school districts to competitively recruit staff, an extra $45 million for social programs and additional aid for local governments..."
Once Democrats got what they demanded, they discovered they were upset about the Dulles Toll Road -- four days before the final vote -- the same issue that Democrat Sen. Janet Howell derided her Republican opponent over during the 2011 election as "bogus." She called it a "publicity stunt." From the Fairfax Times:
"... [Republican Candidate Forrest] also criticized Howell for not doing enough to get state funding for the project. Howell has served as a lead budget negotiator for the Senate in recent years.
Howell points to a letter she sent to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), criticizing him for spending $850 million to buy down tolls in the Hampton Roads area while not doing the same for the Dulles Toll Road.
"Nobody, especially me, will tolerate $17 tolls," she said. "It's basically a publicity stunt by Patrick Forrest to draw attention to his campaign."
So to sum up, the entire Democrat argument at this time: they're willing to hold up transportation projects in all over the Commonwealth, as well as funding for teachers, firefighters, police... all to lower the tolls on less than 20 miles of road in Northern Virginia.
One has the feeling nerves are fraying in Richmond and, at the local level, budgets are now on hold indefinitely for funds coming in from the Commonwealth.
And so Democrats carried through on their threat to shut down the budget by acting like kindergartners because they wanted their committee seats back. This time, however, they may have pushed it too far, setting up the perfect storm to cause a backlash against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine as well as the reelection efforts of Barack Obama.
Let's hope that comes true.
H/T to Republican Party of Virginia