Thursday, September 17, 2020
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Rob Krupicka Announces for David Englin’s House of Delegates Seat

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Well, that sure didn't take long!
Less than a day after the announcement [by Del. David Englin that he would vacate his seat], City Councilman Rob Krupicka (D) confirmed he intended to run for the open seat. Krupicka ran for the Virginia Senate last year but lost the Democratic nomination to fellow Del Ray resident state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30).

"I've been pretty clear that I'm pretty interested in the policies and politics that are happening in Richmond and this is the chance for me to continue the work I started with the senate campaign," Krupicka, also a member of the state Board of Education, said.

Good for Rob, I think he'd make a great Delegate (he also would have made an excellent State Senator, but I could never decide between Adam Ebbin, Libby Garvey and him) and will be happy to support him for this position. Go Rob!

P.S. Here's my interview with Rob when he was running for State Senate last year.

Legislators Lining Up in Opposition to Marshall’s Anti-Labor Bill

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Crossposted at ProgressVA.

Opposition to a blatantly anti-labor bill is beginning to build in Virginia, and State Senators Dave Marsden and Chap Petersen and Delegate David Englin are among those voicing criticism. House Bill No. 2, introduced by Delegate Bob Marshall, would prohibit Virginia from providing funding for Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metro Project if it is subject to a project labor agreement (PLA).

PLAs don't actually require projects to only hire union workers--they are a tool for taxpayer accountability. PLAs require the use of trained workers and safety standards for contractors, and worked great on Phase 1 of the project, as we pointed out previously. State Senator Dave Marsden said in a statement this week,

"What concerns me is that this bill appears to stem from an anti-union mindset that places ideology over public good and job creation. It could lead to experienced workers who performed well on Phase I being excluded from Phase II, and create the need for the expense of training new workers. Just as importantly, the PLA will create local jobs for a largely local workforce... A PLA is not always necessary on public projects, but I would ask my good friend Delegate Marshall, 'what problem are you trying to solve with this legislation?' It seems that continuing the PLA during Phase II is in keeping with good public policy. Let's not remove what has proven to be successful tool from consideration."

(More below the fold.)

David Englin Strikes Back!

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I've gotta say one thing about David Englin, he sure doesn't back down from a fight, even - or especially? - when he's dead wrong on every level! Check this out from his Washington Post op-ed.
However, the trip has understandably raised eyebrows and ire among constituents, environmental activists and editorial boards, who perceive it as Virginia Uranium's effort to buy our votes. To make matters worse, a senior Democrat from Northern Virginia, who knew full well the itinerary and was already en route, opted out of the trip only after the news media reported his scheduled participation, feeding the notion that we were up to no good.  

So why would somebody like me, who has spent the past three terms in the House of Delegates building a record and reputation as a good-government progressive and environmental activist, agree to participate in such an excursion?

Englin proceeds to explain why he went to France on Virginia Uranium's dime (or maybe Euro?). He's pretty persuasive, too; heck, by the end, even I was just about convinced! Ha, well, maybe not. Anyway, check out what Del. Englin has to say, and let us know what you think. Thanks. Or perhapsI say, in keeping with the subject, "merci beaucoup!"

P.S. Now, time to open a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau and celebrate the start of "le jour de l'Indépendance" weekend. :)

P.P.S. Graphic courtesy of NLS

David Englin, Others Weigh In On $10,000 All-Expenses-Paid Trip to France

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I asked the Democratic candidates running in the 30th and 31st State Senate districts, as well as the 49th House of Delegates district, whether they believe that accepting gifts like a $10,000, all-expense-paid trip to France by a uranium company with business before the General Assembly - is appropriate for Virginia state legislators - and if not, why not?  I'll publish the responses in the order I receive them.

First, though, here's David Englin's response, since he's one of the state legislators who was listed by the Washington Post as accepting an "all-expenses paid trips as part of an aggressive lobbying effort by a company pushing lawmakers to lift a ban on uranium mining in the state."

Anybody who knows me knows they can't buy my vote. As somebody who's been named a Legislative Hero five times by the League of Conservation Voters, I hope my record speaks for itself when it comes to standing up for our environment.

We're going to France because that's where the comparable mine is, not because it's a tourist destination. I'm also planning a trip later in the year to the proposed mine site here in Virginia. The fact of the matter is that there's great value in being able to see these sites and operations firsthand. As a member of the Natural Resources Subcommittee, I will be heavily engaged in this debate; if proponents are able to say they've seen it work safely firsthand, and all I can do is cite what I've read or been told, I will be at a huge disadvantage.

While some of my colleagues may have the personal resources or accumulated frequent flyer miles to pay their own way, but I do not, and I don't think such a trip would be an appropriate use of either campaign funds or taxpayer dollars. Therefore, my alternatives are to pass on the trip and miss the opportunity to be as credible and informed as the other side, or accept Virginia Uranium's offer to pay my way. This is arguably among the most significant policy decisions the General Assembly will make, and I believe I have an obligation to do everything possible to be well-informed and well-equipped to advocate for the correct course of action.

Now, here's the response from Libby Garvey (30th State Senate district):

Englin: Virginia Budget “Surplus” Based On “irresponsible choices and budget gimmickry”

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In his news release (see below), Del. David Englin (D-Alexandria/Arlington) is absolutely right, Bob McDonnell's supposed "budget surplus" is certainly not how it's defined in the dictionary. Also, and this can't be repeated enough for the idiot media (e.g., WAMU) which can't get this story straight (or even pronounce Gov. McDonnell's name correctly), McDonnell's phony "surplus" is, as David Englin says, "largely the result irresponsible choices and budget gimmickry."  I mean, if this is a real budget surplus, then I'm sure Bob McDonnell - good "conservative" that he is - will be proposing large tax cuts soon enough, since there's all this money he doesn't know what to do with.  Right?
Governor McDonnell today repeated the claim that Virginia suddenly has a surplus, but that is simply false. Webster's defines "surplus" as "the amount that remains when use or need is satisfied." Given that the General Assembly just cut an additional $4 billion in state services, one could hardly call this year's $404 million account balance "the amount that remains when use or need is satisfied." If anything, it is an "unappropriated balance" waiting to satisfy unmet needs. The fact that Governor McDonnell (correctly, in my view) intends to spend this money on dire unmet budget needs is proof enough of that point.

Beyond that, it's important to note that this unappropriated balance is largely the result irresponsible choices and budget gimmickry. The General Assembly effectively took a "payday loan" from the state pension trust fund by borrowing $600 million from the fund, despite the fact that the Pew Center for the States in February downgraded Virginia for underfunding our pension trust fund's ability to meet known obligations. Additionally, Virginia required retailers -- many of whom are struggling small businesses -- to estimate their July sales tax receipts and pay them early, shifting that revenue from one fiscal year to another. The taxes these businesses were forced to pay early caused more than half of the current unappropriated balance and leaves a hole that same size in the next year's revenue.

Instead of trying to score political points by claiming a surplus that isn't, leaders of both parties ought to level with citizens who see for themselves the decline in services and quality of life. A balanced budget and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars requires money in to equal money out, without gimmicks that cook the books and risk our future finances.


P.S. Click here for Bob McDonnell's remarks this morning to the General Assembly money committees.

Delegates Englin and Hope: McDonnell’s Change of Position on Medicaid Puts...

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I just received this from Delegates David Englin (D-45) and Patrick Hope (D-47). I thought it was worth passing along, as I strongly concur with Englin's and Hope's position on this issue.  As usual, Bob McDonnell is being driven by his right-wing ideology instead of by the best interests of Virginia, let alone concern for the poorest and most vulnerable Virginians. That's truly unfortunate.
Englin and Hope question McDonnell stance on Medicaid funds and urge Congress to act

State Delegates note that Governor's change of position puts Virginia jobs at risk

Arlington - Governor Robert F. McDonnell told reporters Monday that he no longer plans to ask Congress to support an enhanced federal match for Medicaid benefits to the states unless the funds are offset, citing concerns about the deficit. Yet he signed a letter in February, along with 46 other governors, indicating that an extension of these funds, known as FMAP, "would greatly assist us in maintaining services and further stabilizing the economy."

"The General Assembly didn't write such conditions for these Medicaid funds in Virginia's budget, and Governor McDonnell didn't propose such conditions before he signed the budget in April," said Delegate Patrick Hope (D-47). "When exactly did the federal deficit become a revelation to the Governor? Why is he changing his position and putting Virginia jobs and Virginia citizens at risk?"

"Congress is getting ready to vote on this issue. With Virginia preparing cut services to thousands of our most vulnerable citizens because Congress has yet to approve this money, it's irresponsible for Governor McDonnell to send a message that this money is no longer necessary," said Delegate David Englin (D-45). "We urge Governor McDonnell to stick with his February position and join us in calling on Congress to approve this money now to protect Virginia jobs and Virginia citizens."

Meanwhile, Congress adjourned today without approving these funds, which means another week will go by without providing this critical funding to the states.

"Congress needs to understand the consequences of inaction," said Hope. "Hundreds of thousands of Virginians are depending on the funding these services provide; thousands of jobs in the health care sector are at stake."

In Praise of Perriello

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He won his seat in 2008 by 727 votes over a longtime incumbent

perriello

McCain carried his district.

He voted for healthcare reform and for the energy bill.

He is in the crosshairs of Sarah Palin.

Republicans and - thanks to Citizens United - corporations will spend millions to defeat him.

He is one of the very best Congressman around.

His name is Tom Perriello, of Virginia's 5th Congressional District, and I want to praise him.  

Englin: Malek Appointment By McDonnell “deeply disturbing”

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Del. David Englin (D-45) has some thoughts on Bob McDonnell's appointment of Fred Malek (aka, "Sarah Palin's leading defender") to chair his new budget/government "reform" commission.
While I support the effort to create a top-level commission to recommend policies to reform government, it is deeply disturbing that Governor McDonnell would appoint as its chair Fred Malek, whose history in "reforming" government includes creating lists of Jews serving in government to track and remove from government service. Was there really no more qualified individual in Virginia to lead this panel? Has he done anything to disavow and make amends for his previous anti-Semitism? Otherwise, it's one more slap in the face from McDonnell to Jewish state employees, coming right on the heels of allowing uniformed state police chaplains to proselytize to Jewish troopers and their families. These continued missteps from the McDonnell Administration are distractions from the competent and effective governing Virginians expect and deserve.
See NLS for more on this disturbing appointment.

UPDATE: Del. Adam Ebbin chimes in.

It is cause for profound concern that Governor McDonnell would appoint Fred Malek to head his Commission on Government Reform. Malek's Nixon administration record of creating a list of Jews--with an eye towards removing them from public service--is still alarming today. There are certainly many capable Virginians who could assume this important position.

David Englin: McDonnell Policy “an affront to all Virginians of minority...

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"Delegate David Englin (D-45) issued the following statement today in response to Gov. Bob McDonnell's reversal of nondenominational requirements for State Police chaplains:"
Today's reversal by Governor McDonnell of the Virginia State Police policy permitting only nondenominational, inclusive invocations at government-sponsored functions is an affront to all Virginians of minority religion or no religion.

As a Jew, I am proud of Virginia's history of religious inclusiveness, which started with Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Statute of Religious Freedom, and George Washington, who promised the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island, an American government "which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance."

As an Air Force veteran raised on U.S. military bases overseas, I have experienced firsthand the unifying power of military chaplains, who defend the First Amendment by ministering in their own particular faith traditions to their denominational flocks while providing inclusive, nondenominational blessings at official government functions. Even beyond that, military chaplains pride themselves on ensuring people under their charge of all faiths -- or no faith -- are able to exercise their beliefs. As an Air Force officer, I attended Passover seders and other Jewish observances organized by Methodist, Baptist, and Catholic chaplains.

Rather than look to this proven, constitutional model, Bob McDonnell has chosen a policy that allows agents of the government to foist their religious beliefs on others, satisfying the Religious Right while turning his back on the diversity and pluralism that has made our country great.

Thank You David Englin! [UPDATE: And Scott Surovell Too!]

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What a concept, a Democrat from the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party!"  Thank you David Englin, for speaking the truth about this piece-o'-crap budget.
Budgets are moral documents that express our values as a Commonwealth and determine whom we lift up and whom we leave out. While the final version of the budget is less bad than the initial House version, I still cannot justify supporting a budget that balances the books on the backs of children and the poor and that includes a fiscally irresponsible shell game with the state pension trust fund.

Thanks to strong, unified, vocal opposition from House Democrats, the final budget is less bad than the budget House Republicans passed Feb. 25. For example, the final budget rejected the Republican plan to take money away from poor students and give it to students who are not poor, and it rejected the Republican plan to redirect federal Medicaid enhancement money from health care for the neediest Virginians to non-health care programs.

However, these concessions do not make up for the fact that the final budget cuts billions of dollars from public education, health care for the poor, public safety, and aid to localities, with no serious attempt to mitigate these cuts with revenue and no serious attempt to give localities the power to mitigate these cuts in their own. Even worse, the final budget still includes a risky, $800-million scheme to divert state contributions from the state pension trust fund, which will put Virginia's triple-A bond rating at risk and threaten our ability to meet our pension obligations to teachers, fire fighters, law enforcement officers, and state and local employees.

And how about bringing back the estate tax, repeal of which Tim Kaine foolishly signed into law?  Why should we slash services for the neediest Virginians while the top few hundred families (out of millions of residents) get a huge tax break? It's wrong on every level - economic, political, moral - for Democrats to go along with this, so why are they going along with it?  I call bull****.

UPDATE: And thank you Scott Surovell!

My grandfather always taught me that you either pay less for things now or you pay more for them later. I do not believe these budget "cuts" are cuts. They are simply reductions in funding on going responsibilities that are now being pushed onto the poor, the uneducated, to middle class families and local government who now have to make the tough decisions.

Educating our children, caring for the poor, and keeping our public safe are a core responsibilities of state government. This Budget does not do that. It balances our budgets on the backs of the poor, the sick, the disabled, college students and their families, and the criminal justice system.

And we haven't done a single thing to resolve this state's transportation crisis.


Exactly!

UPDATE #2: See the Washington Post and WTVR for more on the state budget passage. The vote in the Senate was 34-6, and in the House 73-23. According to Anita Kumar and Rosalind Helderman, "The breakthrough on the budget came when Senate negotiators agreed to eliminate 60 percent of fees that they had proposed to preserve some programs."  The result of which, of course, was to harm more vulnerable Virginians. Heckuva job.