Virginia State Senator Mark Herring (D Loudoun & Fairfax) delivered the following remarks at a press conference held by the Senate Democratic caucus late this afternoon regarding the budget impasse:
“We’re hearing a lot from the other side that partisan politics is standing in the way of approving a budget in the Senate.
Democrats voted against the budget because we have substantive disagreements about the best path forward for our Commonwealth — particularly in the areas of education and transportation.
One example on transportation is the proposal to extend Metrorail to Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County. It is one of the most important transportation projects in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and it is a project of local, state and national significance.
The Senate Republican budget was completely silent on funding for this project. With tolls on the Dulles Toll Road projected to reach $6.75 by 2018 for a one-way trip, Northern Virginians expect the state to step up with a significant contribution in order to keep tolls from spiraling out of control.
On education, we know that our Commonwealth is stronger when our children are prepared to compete in the twenty-first century global economy.
The Senate Republican budget failed to fully restore the cost-of-competing funding for Northern Virginia. That money is needed to help educate our children in Northern Virginia.
Yesterday, a one of our Republican colleagues threatened to remove $42 million of cost-of-competing money from the Republican Senate budget.
That is budget blackmail and it is the kind of partisan maneuvering that is preventing us from moving forward. It is the kind of political gamesmanship that is preventing Democrats and Republicans from having a truly bipartisan discussion about our Commonwealth’s priorities.
I am disappointed in the partisan rhetoric of my Republican colleagues. They’re saying what’s theirs is theirs and what’s ours is negotiable. That is not how an equal negotiation works.
Virginians elected 40 members of the Senate, 20 of whom happen to be Democrats and 20 of whom happen to be Republicans. And Virginians expect us to work together and pass a fiscally responsible budget that meets the needs of the Commonwealth.”