Category Archives: General Assembly

Campaign Finance Reports Show the Party of the Rich Is Outraising Republicans

by Jeanine Martin

As usual the party of the rich, Democrats, is outraising Republicans in the commonwealth election scheduled for November 7th. The September financial reports for all candidates and committees can be found here. If things don’t turn around in the next three weeks Republicans will have a difficult time flipping the State Senate and keeping the House of Delegates. Continue reading

Youngkin Team Cautious Despite Revenue Surge

Finance Secretary Cummings showed this chart to legislators this week and noted the deceleration in job growth, citing that as another reason he and Governor Glenn Youngkin remain cautious despite strong revenues. Click for larger view.

by Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. 

Virginia’s state budget grew 90% in the past decade, far faster than in previous decades. After adjusting for inflation and population changes, spending still jumped 4% each year, a high rate of compound real growth.  At the same time, the state continues to see explosive growth in its revenue, pointing to cash surpluses continuing for some time.

These facts emerged from two presentations to the Virginia General Assembly this week.  The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) issued its annual report on state spending growth on Monday.  That same day, Secretary of Finance Stephen Cummings reported on the revenue results from July through September, the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2024.

In just those three months, revenue exceeded the revenue estimates by more than $412 million.  Other months, with larger pots of projected revenue, are still ahead.  Should this revenue trend hold, surpluses similar to the historic surpluses of Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023 could result next June.

During the elections two years ago, Virginia’s flush financial condition was inspiring debates about tax reductions and tax reform.  Some, but not all, of the proposals went on to pass.  But with General Assembly elections just over two weeks away, few candidates in either party are promising more tax reform or reduction efforts in the next session. Continue reading

The Benefits of School Choice and the Risks in the November Elections

from Liberty Unyielding

The debate over school choice has tended to focus on whether students learn more as a result. But learning improvements from school choice are probably smaller than improvements in other dimensions, such as civic participation, law abidingness, and family stability later in life. Jason Bedrick of The Heritage Foundation notes that “School-choice policies even appear to foster law-abidingness and self-governance. A study by @P_Diddy Wolf & @Corey_DeAngelis found that students participating in Milwaukee’s school choice program saw significant reductions in criminal convictions & paternity suits.” Perhaps private schools have the ability to instill values in ways that the public schools do not.

“When it comes to civic knowledge and skills, 10 studies find a private-school advantage, six find no difference, and none find a government-school advantage,” Bedrick points out. “Some claim government schools are where people of all different backgrounds learn to live and work together. Yet, in the research on political tolerance—a virtue our nation needs direly today—show a 13-1 advantage for school choice over government schooling.”

In the public schools, “Teaching students a historically accurate understanding of our nation’s founding and the role of government is not a priority. Instead, instructional content too often centers on social justice, ethnic studies, and Marxist-inspired Critical Race Theory,” Bedrick says.

Since private schools spend less per student on average than the public schools, school choice also has the potential to save taxpayers a lot of money over the long run. Continue reading

Why are the Poor Still Paying for Dominion Wind?

by Steve Haner

Virginia’s new electricity bill subsidy program for customers of Dominion Energy Virginia has cleared its final hurdle at the State Corporation Commission and will begin enrolling participants in time for this coming winter. It is largely following the schedule previously outlined.

In a final order issued October 13, the Commission set the rate adjustment clause amount that will be added to Dominion customer bills at 73 cents per 1,000 kilowatt hours. For most residential customers it will add between 50 cents and a dollar per month to their bills. Continue reading

Capitol Fortress

Virginia General Assembly Building (new)

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

With the opening of the new General Assembly Building this month came other reminders of how the world has changed.

It was not that long ago that staff and tourists could walk unimpeded into the Capitol building. One could drive into the circle beyond the gate fronting on Grace Street to pick someone up or drop off a passenger. One could drive on the street between Capitol Square and Old City Hall and even park there on weekends (so long as one did not park in Senate Clerk Susan Schar’s space).

First, it was the Capitol. Visitors without a State ID now have to trek down the hill and enter through an underground entrance and then walk back up several flights of stairs to get to the interior of the Capitol.

Now, the area has the look of a fortress. There is a large gatehouse at the Grace Street entrance along with a large iron gate. The street entrances off Broad St. have gates manned by Capitol Police.

This is not meant to be a criticism. It is a lamentation over the realities of the present era.

Capitol Square, main entrance fronting Grace St.

Capitol Square, street entrance off Broad St., next to General Assembly Building

Capitol Square, street exit onto Broad St.

National Academy of Sciences Offers Superb Recommendations for Fixing Virginia’s Nursing Home Crisis

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes, we need to listen.

I just finished the 806-page 2022 report The National Imperative to Improve Nursing Home Quality: Honoring Our Commitment to Residents, Families, and Staff by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). It is downloadable at the link.

That study and report were utterly professional and thorough, as scientific as you expect, remarkably staffed and bipartisan in recommendations.

I have compiled from Appendix D of that report those remedies recommended for execution by states and nursing homes. They deserve to be the centerpiece of Virginia law and regulation going forward.

All of them. Continue reading

Democrats Target Virginia House, Senate Seats

by Jeanine Martin

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) believes there are 17 safe Democrat state Senate seats in the General Assembly. (There are a total of 40 seats in the state Senate.) Democrats need to pick up 4 additional seats to keep their majority. To do that they are putting millions into these races:

  • Aaron Rouse in SD-22
  • Monty Mason in SD-24
  • Danica Roem in SD-30
  • Schuyler VanValkenburg in SD-16
  • Russet Perry in SD-31

Continue reading

A Progressive Dirty Trick: Tell Republican Voters that the Democrat is a Republican

by the staff of Liberty Unyielding

Voting is underway in Virginia’s legislative elections, where early voting started on September 22. To try to win a very close race, progressives are telling Republican voters that the Republican candidate is a Democrat, and the Democratic candidate is a Republican. This is occurring in House District 97, which the Virginia Public Access Project rates as one of Virginia’s most “competitive” legislative districts.

The progressive Policy Information Center sent mail to Republican voters in the district telling them that the Republican incumbent, Karen Greenhalgh, is a Democrat, and that Michael Feggans, the Democratic candidate, is a Republican. Here is an image of the mail that was sent:

The Policy Information Center is a facade for Forward Majority, a progressive PAC that claims that “Our democracy is in crisis” because of a “systematic assault” by the “GOP.”

Pundits such as Chaz Nuttycombe say the race in House District 97 is too close to call. Nuttycombe says the Virginia Beach seat is one of three House seats that is a “toss-up.” Continue reading

Which Party?

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

I was at the Virginia State Fair this morning.

The state Republican Party has this “booth.” It is a good idea. I don’t know if the Democrats have one because I did not walk around the whole area. The Republicans have a good location—right next to the main Commonwealth Pavilion, where there is a lot of foot traffic and there are bathrooms.

I was struck by how many yard signs did not identify the candidate as a Republican. A few did say “Conservative” but left off any party affiliation.

I chatted with the nice guy who was manning the booth. He is chairman of the Westmoreland County Republican Party. He said that he, too, had noticed the lack of party identification on the yard signs. He said he did not understand it and had no explanation for it.

Of the scores of yard signs displayed, only four candidates were willing to admit they were Republicans.

DOE Response to Average Teacher Salary Issues

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

My article on average teacher salaries must have struck a nerve. This morning I received an answer to my inquiry from the Department of Education (DOE).

In short, DOE disavows any responsibility for the accuracy of the data in the report it submitted to the General Assembly.

The Office of Communications declares, “All data in the teacher salary survey report is based on data certified by school division superintendents. VDOE staff tries to identify as many of the variances as possible and obtain corrections from school divisions within the time-frame available each fall.” Continue reading

LaRock Launches Senate Write-In Campaign

by Jeanine Martin

A message from Republican Del. Dave LaRock:

“I believe people are tired of Democrats destroying our Country and our communities and trying to run our lives. The people of Senate District 1, me included, deserve to be represented by a reliable conservative, someone who shares their values and can be trusted to represent them well, to serve the people, not the special interests.

“I’m extremely honored to have served the Northern Shenandoah Valley in the House of Delegates for ten years. SD-1 is already losing the influence and experience of Senators Jill Vogel and Mark Obenshain and Delegate Webert.

“If we go forward without the strong conservative voice I bring to the legislature, many conservative leaders are convinced that we are going to miss out on meaningful reforms and see our rights further eroded. Continue reading

Virginia Republicans Respond to Lies About Abortion

by Jeanine Martin

Democrats mean what they say: abortions allowed up until the moment of birth and for some, like former Governor Ralph Northam, even after a child is born.

Currently Democrats are claiming Republicans want to ban abortion in Virginia. For instance, the excellent Republican candidate for the State Senate in the 31st district, Juan Pablo Segura, has a Democrat opponent constantly running a TV ad saying he wants to ban all abortions, a position he has never taken. It’s simply a lie but that has never stopped a Democrat.

Now the Republicans are responding, explaining their position on abortion with a new ad.

From The Washington Post:

“Voters have a very distinct choice,” said Garren Shipley, spokesman for the House Republican Caucus, which paid for what he called a “six-figure” ad campaign. “Republicans have been absolutely clear from the get-go” that they favor a 15-week limit with exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the pregnant person, he said. “But Democrats can’t give you a straight answer about what they want to do.”

Republished with permission from The Bull Elephant.

A Case Against Further Tax Cuts

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

After more than a decade of state budget revenue shortfalls and concomitant budget cuts, one would think there would be smiles all round at the news of revenues coming in substantially above the projections, resulting in a healthy general fund surplus. Incongruously, that was not the case.

Republicans seemed to be outraged that the state brought in so much more money than was projected. There were calls to give it back to the taxpayers. It is somewhat curious that these are the folks who often demand that government be run like a business, yet there are no demands that large companies, such as big oil companies, for example, give refunds to their customers when they bring in record profits.

Governor Youngkin, not satisfied with large tax cuts in 2022, wants taxes cut even further. In July, citing the expectation of revenues exceeding the forecast (which was admittedly on the low side), he declared, “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to have a substantial tax reduction.” In his address to the money committees in August, after citing the advances his administration had accomplished with the increased revenues and the challenges still ahead, he announced, “This is our moment to soar.” But, not too high, it would appear, because “we must provide substantial tax relief.” Continue reading

Transparency? Hah!

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Maybe it was the weirdness of amending the biennial budget after Year 2 of the biennium had started.  Maybe all the money they had to spend made them dizzy. Maybe they were in a hurry because many of them were in the middle of re-election campaigns. Whatever the reason, the General Assembly decided in its special session to adopt the budget to sacrifice transparency in favor of efficiency.

A quick review of the normal procedure will serve to clarify how different this year was. Normally, after both houses have considered the budget bill and rejected each other’s version, the bill is sent to a conference committee comprised of members from both houses. In a largely shrouded process, the conference committee eventually produces a report consisting of all the changes to the introduced budget bill that its members have agreed upon. (Comparisons to the Vatican College of Cardinals electing a new Pope are apt.) Continue reading

Voyeurism Isn’t Good for the Soul (or Politics)

Susanna Gibson, Democratic nominee for the 57th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

by Shaun Kenney

The scandal of the week involving Susanna Gibson is an indictment of our politics. Shame on us all for participating in it.

HAMLET Get thee ⟨to⟩ a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be
a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest,
but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
were better my mother had not borne me: I am
very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offenses
at my beck than I have thoughts to put them
in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act
them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves
⟨all;⟩ believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.

— William Shakespeare, “Hamlet” Act 3, Scene 1 (1601)

Ophelia has given herself to Hamlet. Yet having placed her trust totally in men — her father, her brother, her lover — she is told by her beloved to remove herself to a nunnery. Or in the context of the Elizabethan age? A brothel — thus exchanging the ideas of nobility and love for pure utility and momentary pleasure.

Realizing the world for what it is — or at least, the world of Hamlet, Laertes, and Polonius — drives Ophelia insane. Having relied upon a branch made of willow, she drowns in a shallow pool, able yet unwilling to save herself and face such a world. Continue reading