Home Budget, Economy On “The Politics Hour,” Del. Mark Sickles Talks About the Virginia Budget,...

On “The Politics Hour,” Del. Mark Sickles Talks About the Virginia Budget, RGGI, ERIC, Youngkin’s “entertaining” Veto Explanations, the Need for Comprehensive Tax Reform,”Youngkin Being a “True Right Winger” and Mostly Playing National Politics, etc.

"We Democrats are gonna work on getting RGGI reestablished one way or the other, through the court system or reenacting it when we have the votes and have a governor..."

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This morning, the House of Delegates and State Senate budget bills were posted online, so you can now look at the details of what was negotiated the past few weeks between Virginia legislators and the Youngkin administration.  On yesterday’s The Politics Hour on WAMU, Virginia Del. Mark Sickles – Vice Chair of the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee, thus heavily involved in budget negotations – discussed the new budget and other matters. Here are a few highlights.

  • “We went into [budget negotiations] with a good start, because we told [Youngkin] to begin with, we were gonna, our starting point was the conference report from our budget from session, and we didn’t wanna deviate too much from that. He understood that. You might recall during our reconvene session, he had 233 amendments to our budget. The Speaker ruled they were not specific and severable, so we never took them up, and decided to try to get a budget by May 13th. We think we’re gonna do that on Monday. The agreement yesterday cut out a couple things that the governor wanted out of the budget. And, basically, the rest of the spending was, what we had asked for to begin with.”
  • On RGGI, “we have a law that we believe is in effect now. The governor’s ignoring it, and he had his Air Control Board just nullify it even though we think it’s in the law. We didn’t think it was a suggestion. We thought it’s the law. That’s why it’s being litigated now. It was the House’s idea to put it in the budget. The Senate did not have it in the budget. Although, there at the end, when we were talking about closing this out, they became strong supporters of it. The environmental community weighed in strongly that we put it in there. But two things could happen. The governor could have vetoed the entire budget over it, or if he had line-item vetoed just the RGGI language, then we would have been in litigation over that. So we do have a court case. It’s down in the Floyd County Circuit Court that we hope we win. We we think the statute is fine and that the governor doesn’t have the authority to do what he did…We Democrats are gonna work on getting RGGI reestablished one way or the other, through the court system or reenacting it when we have the votes and have a governor who will employ a cap-and-trade program just like we’re doing in the Chesapeake Bay, just like President H. W. Bush did to cure acid rain 30 years ago.”
  • “We’ve got a very good budget that has K-12 spending over $2 billion more than we in the last budget. We have funding for higher education. The governor had no money for higher education in his budget. We have a lot of environmental spending for water quality, agricultural BMPs, stormwater, wastewater. There is a ton in this budget. I encourage everyone to look at it…most of that spending that’s in that bill is in this bill”
  • “The governor proposed basically tax reform in the budget. We think tax reform probably ought to be done separately, through the finance committee. He did not socialize that through his own party. The Republicans were shocked when he paid for that by sales taxes and decreased, really, his own taxes, because when you do it across the board, 12% tax cut, it really helps people at the highest end of the income scale more than it does people at, like, let’s say, my income tax level. And so it was just an unbalanced proposal. But the digital income tax is probably something that’s gonna have to be fixed. It will have to be fixed because we’ve changed the way we buy things, and there are fewer things that are subject to the sales tax than there used to be. And we have a lot of warnings into the future about the real estate prices and the way that we fund government. The gas tax doesn’t work as well anymore with all the electric cars being sold. All these things. So we do need comprehensive tax reform that is less reliant on property taxes. And I hope that when we have the next governor, we’ll have a chance to do comprehensive tax reform.”
  • “I don’t know. Maybe he’ll learn some more. I mean, he did not really get to know us for his first two years in office. He was running for president most of that time and had  the House of Delegates in Republican control, and he had some people there he could work with. And now that he he lost the election last November, you know, he had to learn our names and all that stuff.”
  • “I say good luck with [potentially running against Mark Warner in 2026] because he vetoed so many bills this year that have 70%, 80% approval in our area, that there’s a lot of material now that he had to really expose that… he’s a true right winger. And, you know, his beliefs became clear in all his vetoes this year.”
  • “[Youngkin] vetoed a bill that where it would require a person to be 21 years old to buy an assault weapon. Under federal law, you have to be 21 to buy a handgun. So…teenagers now in Virginia can buy an AR-15, and I thought that was wrong. And, you know, he gave the usual, freedom, Second Amendment type of reasoning to do it. And he did write some extensive explanations for his vetoes. They’re quite entertaining. I don’t think they were written by lawyers in many cases. It was kinda all over the place and some contradictory. But, anyway, there’s more to come. We rejected his amendments on other bills. So he’s got a week or so left to to continue vetoing bills, and I don’t know how many more there’ll be. Maybe 20?”
  • ERIC allows the states that join the compact to exchange voter information.  There’s other ways to do it. Any good Department of Elections should be using various different methodologies to make sure their voting roles are accurate. The September before they decided to resign from ERIC, they claimed that our voter file was one of the best in the country and that ERIC was very efficient, was doing a great job. And, then for some reason, over the next 6 months, they decided there was some kind of conspiracy. One thing that ERIC did, with the permission of the states that were involved in it, was to talk to or send a letter to people who were eligible to vote but were not registered to say, hey, you’re eligible to vote if you’d like to, if you wanna register, this is how you register. People took offense to that, and someone called the Gateway Pundit  made it a national issue and and Republican governors all over the all over the country.”
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