RICHMOND, VA –– Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Majority Leader M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox (R-Colonial Heights) were joined Thursday by House Majority Whip Jackson H. Miller (R-Manassas), House Republican Caucus Chairman Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax), Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock), Delegate Barbara J. Comstock (R-McLean), and Delegate Beverly Sherwood (R-Frederick) at a press conference unveiling Republican legislative priorities for the 2013 session.
“Our priorities are the priorities of the people of Virginia,” said Speaker Howell. “Protecting and growing Virginia jobs, building stronger schools, laying out a long-term, real solution to our transportation challenges and crafting a smarter state government will be our focus this year. Jobs and the economy are still the most important issues facing our Commonwealth. Education, transportation and an effective state government are critical issues that affect Virginia’s ability to attract new businesses and the good-paying jobs that come with them.” More >
RICHMOND, VA – Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William J. Howell (R-Stafford) issued the following statement this afternoon following Governor Bob McDonnell’s announcement of the Fiscal Year 2012 surplus figures. Governor McDonnell and the House Republican Caucus remain committed to eliminating unnecessary government spending, maintaining a balanced budget and keeping taxes low. Since taking over the Governor’s Mansion in 2010, Governor McDonnell and General Assembly Republicans have returned revenue surpluses each fiscal year. Additional savings from unused agency funds are expected to be announced next month.
“For a third year running, our Caucus has made government reform a key priority with an eye towards reducing costs, eliminating duplicative programs and keeping new spending in check. Together with the Governor, our efforts have produced a surplus of nearly $130 million dollars – the third surplus in as many years,” said Howell.
The surplus will likely be adjusted later in the summer to reflect state agency savings. Such excess revenues are, in large part, previously obligated through state budget language addressing allocations of surplus. Though figures are not final, it is expected that the surplus will include an additional $78.6 million allocation to the Rainy Day Fund, $12.3 million to the Water Quality Fund and will support a 3% state employee bonus payable at the end of the calendar year.
“Once again, Virginia has set the standard for responsible budgeting by spending reasonably and posting surplus figures while many other states and the federal government struggle with out of control debt and spending,” said Howell. “With the specter of sequestration, the end of the Bush tax cuts and the looming costs of Obamacare soon to come into effect, we are by no means out of the economic woods. Still, with the Rainy Day Fund and General Fund Revenues back to 2008 levels and the Federal Action Contingency Fund created to help buffer the Commonwealth from potential federal tax hikes,
Virginia continues to prudently navigate the economic challenges facing modern America.”
Statement of House Republican Leadership Regarding the Richmond City Circuit Court’s Selection of Tracy Thorne-Begland for the Richmond City General District Court
RICHMOND, VA - Following the Richmond City Circuit Court's decision to appoint Tracy Thorne-Begland to the Richmond City General District Court this afternoon, Republican legislative leaders including Speaker of the House of Delegates William J. Howell (R-Stafford), House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Deputy Majority Leader C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), Majority Caucus Chairman Timothy Hugo (R-Prince William) and Majority Whip Jackson Miller (R-Manassas) issued the following statement:
"Today, the Richmond City Circuit Court exercised their statutory right to fill a vacancy in Richmond's General District Court. We are surprised and disappointed that these judges did not afford the actions of the General Assembly due deference in coming to their decision. Our disappointment has nothing to do with the particular candidate in question, but rather reflects our feeling that in this case, the Richmond Circuit Court is not simply filling a judicial vacancy, but is substituting their judgment for that of the General Assembly and superseding the General Assembly's vested Constitutional authority to choose judges.
The Circuit Courts may fill a vacancy with the candidate of their choice to ensure that the court will function properly until the General Assembly meets again and can elect a judge for a full term. The authority given to the Circuit Courts was not intended to function as an appeals process for candidates who have been previously rejected by the General Assembly. To place Mr. Thorne-Begland on the bench notwithstanding that rejection is to reach beyond the intended bounds of the Circuit Court's authority to make such recess appointments.
It is premature to speculate as to who the General Assembly will ultimately select to fill the General District Court vacancy when we next convene in January 2013. We will carefully evaluate applicants for this seat based on their professional credentials, legal temperament and ability to interpret and apply the laws enacted by the General Assembly."
RICHMOND, VA – Following a 20-19 party line vote to kill the 2012-14 House budget this afternoon in the Senate, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William J. Howell (R-Stafford) issued the following statement:
“I was disappointed to hear that Senate Democrats killed the House budget this afternoon. Chairman Putney and the entire House Appropriations Committee worked untold hours, with Republicans and Democrats, to produce a fiscally sound budget that also provides the services important to Virginians. Since the Senate Democrats voted to kill their own budget last week, the General Assembly no longer has a budget to act on.”
“For me and my colleagues in the House of Delegates, it is frustrating to see our hard work rejected in the Senate. Even more distressing is the reality that Senate Democrats did not reject the Senate and House budgets based on policy. Rather, Senate Democrats are making a political power play over committee assignments.”
“Such maneuvering is not befitting of the General Assembly. House and Senate conferees should be starting work tomorrow finalizing the financial blueprint that will guide the Commonwealth through the end of FY 2014. I join my Republican colleagues in the House and Senate in urging the Senate Democrat Caucus to work together towards a budget solution.”
# # #
RICHMOND, VA – House Republican Caucus Chairman Timothy Hugo (R-Fairfax) issued the following statement today after Senate Democrats killed the bipartisan House budget in an ongoing effort to leverage the 2012-14 biennial budget for improved committee assignments:
“Today’s defeat of the House budget by Senate Democrats is an outrage. My colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee – both Democrats and Republicans – have worked earnestly and diligently to craft a budget that will fund key economic development, education and public safety initiatives. Over the last several weeks, Senate Democrats refused to engage their colleagues in developing a Senate budget. Last week on the floor of the Senate, they offered no amendments and no substantive policy arguments against the Senate budget before killing it for political reasons. Today, the House budget was killed without any debate whatsoever.”
“Killing the Senate budget last week was bad enough. Now, the Senate Democrat Caucus has thrown out a House budget that made substantial investments in public education, restored Virginia’s health care safety net and included 970 new ID waiver slots and 100 DD waiver slots over the biennium.”
“The Senate Democrat Caucus ought not use the budget – the most important legislation before us this year – to accomplish what they could not at the polls in November. In so doing, Senate Democrats have put their personal interests ahead of the interests of the citizens they are elected to represent. My colleagues and I do not appreciate our painstakingly-crafted budget being thrown in the legislative garbage can without any consideration whatsoever.
“With the failure of the Senate budget six days ago, I encouraged the Senate Democrat Caucus to stop playing partisan games and earnestly work toward a budget agreement. After killing the House budget today, I once again urge Senate Democrats to end the siege on the budget.”