Senator Puckett's Richmond Report4.2.2012
Last week, the Senate of Virginia reconvened in Richmond to consider the Senate's amendments to the Governor's introduced budget. The Senate passed its version of the budget; however, I voted against it. This report will provide an explanation for my vote.
First, I opposed the Senate's budget, as well as the House's budget, because it makes substantial changes to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS). The financial burden to maintain the VRS is now on local governments and individual employees, including educators. While the economy continues to make positive strides towards a full recovery, it still has a long way to go. Yet, this VRS change will negatively impact the budgets of local governments and individuals. It is troublesome that a majority of my colleagues are willing to "pass the buck" to local governments and individual employees to make additional contributions to the VRS. The economic recovery that we have made thus far could be in jeopardy because of this budget and its changes to VRS.
Second, I voted against the Senate's budget because it provides $25 million dollars in state funding to private schools. Let me be clear that I have no issue with parents making the decision to send their child to a private school. However, state funding should not be taken away from public schools to finance private schools. Our public schools are already facing increased classes sizes while the remaining teachers are overworked and underpaid.
Further, along with House Bill 576, which would have changed the length of teachers' contracts, I am disturbed by a growing trend that is occurring in the Virginia General Assembly. Every year, my colleagues are becoming more and more disrespectful towards the teaching profession. Our public educators deal with our most precious resource in the Commonwealth, our children. For that, they deserve our utmost respect.
Third, I voted against the budget because Southwest Virginia has no direct involvement in the budget-writing process. Of the fifteen members on the Senate Finance Committee, there are no representatives from Southwest Virginia. The closest member is Senator Steve Newman from Lynchburg. Further, of the dozen members of the Budget Conference Committee, again, there is no representation from Southwest Virginia.
Despite my "no" vote, the Senate budget has passed our chamber. Over the next several weeks, the Senate budget conferees will meet with their house counterparts to reconcile the differences between the Senate and House versions. Once the differences are resolved, the General Assembly will return to vote on the final budget. Afterwards, it will be sent to Governor McDonnell for his review and signature. Once this process is complete, the budget will become effective at the start of the next fiscal year, July 1st.
As always, if you have any questions or comments about this report or any other legislative issues, please do not hesitate to contact me. My office can be reached at (276) 979-8181 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senator Puckett's Richmond Report4.2.2012
Last week, the Senate of Virginia reconvened in Richmond to consider the Senate's amendments to the Governor's introduced budget. The Senate passed its version of the budget; however, I voted against it. This report will provide an explanation for my vote. Read More »
Senator Puckett's Richmond Report3.12.2012
After nine long weeks in Richmond, the 2012 General Assembly has concluded its legislative session. As a follow up to last week's report, I would like to provide an update on House Bill 710. Last Wednesday, a substitute measure to the original bill was introduced on the Senate floor. Because the new bill version protects landowners' rights, including the ability to file an injunction against a coal company in court, I voted for the measure. Read More »
Senator Puckett's Richmond Report2.27.2012
Greetings from Richmond! With two weeks remaining in the 2012 General Assembly Session, we are in the homestretch. But, as I say every week in this report, we still have a lot of work remaining on our plates. Here is an update on what is going on Read More »