I'm amazed at the fake media narrative that has gone around that Senate Democrats are holding up Virginia's budget. This has been the meme for months, and is basically totally false. Senate Republicans are much more to blame.
The GOP took a 20-20 tie in Virginia's Senate in the last election. On day one they used the Lt. Governor to ram through committee assignments that didn't reflect the membership of the tied Senate. (It's worth noting this is something that House Republicans have had the power to do for a while and chosen never to do- always ensuring that committees reflected the true breakdown of the House since they took power in 2000). Senate Republicans didn't stop there though- they also took an action that the media basically completely missed- they cancelled the right of Virginians to vote in a different majority. In the Senate rules, Republicans required for a 2/3 vote to have a change to these committee assignments- ensuring that should Democrats win the Lt. Governor's election in 2013 that the new majority would be completely powerless to govern itself.
The correct word for what happened here was a "coup". The power no longer resides with voters in the Lt. Governor's election- it now resides with a small group of legislators that demand to keep that power even if voters decide otherwise. That's a "coup" folks, no other word works for it.
After their coup, Senate Republicans made of a point of making sure the Senators sent to Richmond by 50% of Virginians would be as powerless as possible. The highlight of this was during the debate on the GOP vaginal probing bill when Senator Ralph Northam stood up to explain what the bill required- which was a procedure defined by the FBI as rape. Let's go to that video tape:
Once the public started to learn of this bill and its requirements, outrage began. Senate Republicans than proceeded to lie outright and tell people they didn't know what was required under this bill- even after having been told on the floor exactly what was required by the only doctor in the Senate.
So let's review. First the Senate GOP has a coup and takes away the power of Virginians to change their coup in a future election. Then they begin voting through numerous pieces of extreme legislation and lie about the basic facts- even when there is a public record proving otherwise that anyone can watch on youtube. That brings us to the budget.
Requiring a Democratic vote on the budget (the Lt. Governor can not break ties on this legislation), did Senate Republicans draw up a bi-partisan budget that would bring all Senators together and make sure they each had a say in the spending priorities of the Commonwealth? No, of course not. Instead they brought budgets to the floor that could not muster a single Democratic vote multiple times, hoping to pick off one Democratic Senator and leave the rest completely powerless. Dick Saslaw deserves a lot of credit here for holding his caucus together and not allowing Republicans to once again seize un-elected power that voters did not give them.
Finally, Republicans had to fold and a bi-partisan budget passed the Senate 35-4. When it went to conference committee, Republicans once again attempted to seize complete power by picking off one Democrat- Senator Chuck Colgan. After committing to support the Senate budget in conference, Republicans lied again- taking the first opportunity to attempt to pick off one Democrat once again and remove the budget items that brought a bi-partisan consensus.
Why are they doing this?
The main point of this is to remove the money for Dulles Rail- which still gives the Governor the option to fund it later. The reason they don't want the money included is to give the Governor additional leverage to attack union members building the rail line by holding out the money until they are fired by MWAA and non-union contractors are brought in to do the work. That's what this is really about.
Today once again, Senate Democrats stood united and didn't allow Republicans to use the state budget to play political games. Good for them!
Democrats are not the ones killing the state budget- the people responsible for killing the budget are the ones playing these reckless political games- the Senate GOP.