The Budget Do-Over: A Game of Chicken?

by Jock Yellott 

Speaking off-the-cuff at a Charlottesville/Albemarle Bar Association lunch on April 18, 2024, Senator Creigh Deeds offered some pointed remarks about Governor Youngkin.

The Governor and the General Assembly had just the day before agreed to scrap the budget and the Governor’s proposed amendments and start over from scratch in May, averting a crisis. 

Youngkin’s more than 200 proposed budget amendments are evidence of a CEO mentality, Deeds observed. Compared to other governors the Senator has worked with, this one seems disengaged from the political process.  

Senator Deeds told his lawyer colleagues he anticipates that in May the General Assembly will vote essentially the same budget.  

Consider the implications of that.

To me as an outsider it had looked like the politicos starting over in a spirit of cooperation, this time with more realistic expectations. I was not alone in this: Steve Haner hoped they’ll “finally sit down like adults and negotiate the budget.”

Maybe we were naïve.

If instead the legislature sends the Governor essentially the same budget? It looks like the Democrats playing a game of chicken.  

That in effect could force Governor Youngkin either to swallow a budget he’d tried to amend over 200 times; or to veto it, all of it — and take the blame for the ensuing fiscal crisis. 

Senator Deeds noted Youngkin’s prior experience was in running a business. Not a government with a separate, co-equal branch. 

Did Youngkin just get snookered by that co-equal branch?

Jock Yellott is an Attorney in Charlottesville and an occasional contributor to Bacon’s Rebellion.