The Worst Thing the General Assembly Did This Year

I know, I know, there’s quite a bit of competition for this prize. But hands down, the single worst thing we did had to be the decision not to provide funding for Child Care and Development Funding.

Late this year, the state learned that federal funds for this program were being reduced. In Fairfax County, the funding allows for subsidized child care for more than 6500 kids each month. Most of them are in working families, many in families headed by single parents.

The County sent an urgent request to the Governor asking for help in matching the county funds that support the program. I received a copy of the letter, which was sent to every single one of us who represents Fairfax County.

But when voting on the budget amendments, four Fairfax County Republican delegates voted to cut the funding. Why? Ostensibly “for transportation.” Problem is, the funds will provide only a quarter of a cloverleaf intersection.

Meanwhile, 1,900 Fairfax County children of the working poor will not have access to subsidized child care.

Why would delegates vote against their own constituents? Although they didn’t say so on the floor, the majority caucus had taken a binding vote. That means that just 35 members made the policy decision for the House. And under the new rules of the House, there are now real consequences for breaking with the Caucus after a vote to bind.

Still, it was both bad policy and bad politics.

9 thoughts on “The Worst Thing the General Assembly Did This Year”

  1. Does the Democratic caucus have a similar binding vote policy? (I guess it wouldn’t have much effect until the voters wake up and fire GOP delegates who vote against children and other helpless people)

  2. How COULD the Democrats have a similar binding vote policy? They are in the minority and in Virginia (I think this is ridiculous) the Speaker picks committee assignments for BOTH his party AND the minority. As such, the ONLY non-Republicans on the conference committee that decided on the budget were an “Independent” who votes with the Republicans and Johnny Joannou, the ONLY Democrat to vote against Governor Warner’s tax reform bill. I hope when the Democrats tax back the House of Delegates, they will be more magninimous and allow Minority Leader Griffith to pick committee assignments for the Republicans.

  3. John — At least theoretically, either caucus could vote to bind. We might have done that to uphold the Governor\’s vetoes, for example. But we never did — it takes longer (Lord knows) to get consensus, but we have not asked people to vote against their districts.

    ZB, apparently the Republicans asked for the ability to appoint people to committees when the Democrats were in charge. Democrats said no (although in part I have heard that was because they were afraid Jim Dillard would be yanked off Education, but face it–having the power to appoint is pretty heady stuff). So when the shoe was on the other foot …

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