At last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington) provided a preview of the upcoming, 2011 General Assembly session. Highlights:
*The budget. We’re still feeling the effects of the “great recession.” Two main revenue sources in Virginia – personal income tax and sales tax – are “lagging indicators,” which means we face the 8th round of budget cuts over the past 5 years.
*Virginia has already cut “down to the bone” in “many, many essential services.” That’s made worse by the fact that the “rainy day fund” has been pretty much “tapped out.” Also, stimulus money “aided us tremendously” but is now ending. So, we’re reaching the “Medicaid cliff” and will have to “backfill it.” Budget will dominate session.
*Transportation – been “kicked down the road” for many years. McDonnell’s program relied on offshore oil drilling revenues (“that didn’t turn out too well”), profits from selling ABC stores (turns out the amount of revenues McDonnell estimated was wildly overestimated, also not “revenue neutral” at all, in fact would lose us nearly $50 million a year).
*McDonnell also wants to fund transportation through increased borrowing, we don’t think that’s the proper way to go. In fact, it’s just a way to avoid the hard fact that we have to come up with the revenues we need to fund transportation investments.
*Redistricting – will affect all of what we do this coming session. Two Arlington districts (48th, 49th) have grown slightly faster than average, two others (45th, 47th) have grown slightly slower. Republican majority is in control in House.
*Bills aimed at “stoking fear and hatred” against LGBT, new Virginians, etc. We will “fight efforts to divide us, fight efforts to instill fear and hatred in us…stand up for the Arlington values that all of us share.”