No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Barnie Day



Double Take

Excuse me, what just happened? The Republican  legislature finally passed a budget but I'm getting cross-eyed trying to figure out what they did and why.


Let’s see…


The Democratic governor asked the Republican legislature for a billion dollars in new revenue and the Republican legislature said, "No, that’s not enough" — and gave him more. 


The Democratic governor asked the Republican legislature to keep its word and finally end the car tax and the Republican legislature said, "No," and re-imposed, in the out years to come, a good half of it.


The Democratic governor asked the Republican legislature to end the estate tax for millionaires and the Republican legislature said, "No, let’s keep it."


The Democratic governor asked the Republican legislature to kill him politically for breaking his "‘I won’t raise taxes" word and the Republican legislature said, "No, we’ll raise them for you, we’ll take that beating, and make you a national figure."


What is this? The Twilight Zone? What?


No, there is an explanation. And a plausible one. It is found in the total disconnect between House districts and Senate districts as they exist now in Virginia. 


Because House districts were drawn in such hardcore partisan fashion during the last redistricting, there is no commonality, no naturally abiding communal interests, no correlation between them and the overlapping Senate districts. And sure, Democrats were guilty on this count for a long, long time.  Nonetheless, that’s why the Senate behaves as if it is on one planet and the House as if it is on another — although they both represent, overall, the same Virginians. 


You wouldn’t know it, though, would you, to watch the process?


UVA’s Larry Sabato says resolving this critical skew is the only thing that will prevent future recurrence of this budget fiasco we’ve just concluded. He says taking future redistricting out of the hands of political parties and putting them into the hands of non-partisan commissions is the only hope for that.  


And Jerry Baliles says essentially the same thing. His recommendation: Give some consideration to reducing the membership of the house to 80 so that one Senate district overlay exactly two House districts.


So that issue waits. 


So does another one — tax reform. It got left behind early as the horizon moved in, moved closer—from a hundred miles, to fifty, to two, to the front lawn, to the front porch. But it will be back, sooner or later.   It has to be dealt with, no matter how difficult. It will wait for now, but not forever.


In the end, nobody got what they wanted. Everybody got something. And a new phrase permanently entered the political lexicon in Virginia. Henceforth, there will forever be the Flat Earth wing of the Republican Party (first used in Bacon's Rebellion, February 2, 2004 , in "Flat Earth Society Rides Again").


But first things first! For now the cigars of celebration are being passed! Toasts are being raised! A new baby is bornAnd what a baby it is! 


Passion! Infidelity! False alarms! Chaos! Sirens and flashing lights!! Bumbling dashes down dark dead ends! Graceful, gliding sweeps into ‘Do Not Enters’!  This one had it all from the beginning. 


To say the pregnancy was difficult would be an understatement. It ran way past the due date and cost upwards of a hundred grand more than it should have, but in the end, finally, extraordinary midwifery delivered a healthy, squalling, 40-pounder.


Instantly christened "The Warner Miracle" — and this budget is a miracle, all things considered — some folks took a good look, noted that Chichester smile and those Bryant blue eyes, and nodded to themselves, and pondered the question of the ages that comes up now and then: Who the daddy?


-- May 10, 2004


























Contact Information


Barnie Day

604 Braswell Drive
Meadows of Dan, VA


E-mail: [email protected]