Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Voucher Bill Bites the Dust/Big VRS Vote Tomorrow

Consideration of the Massie Voucher Bill (HB2314) resulted in quite a show at today’s Senate Finance Committee meeting. The bill was targeted at children who qualify for free- and reduced-lunch. The same ploy was used in Florida, but as soon as the voucher door was opened by exploiting poor children, the plan was expanded to create a new entitlement program providing private school vouchers to even the wealthiest children.

Private school students were brought in to testify to the bill, and some of them cried when it failed.

What was most surprising was that representatives of Verizon (Can you hear me now?) and Waste Management, Inc. (Think Green), testified in support of the voucher bill. This is the first time I ever recall major corporations publicly undermining public education in the General Assembly. Senator Wampler moved to report the bill. Senator Saslaw moved a substitute motion to pass by indefinitely (PBI). Senators Marsh and Houck debated against the bill. Wampler and Stosch praised the bill.

The vote on the bill was a straight party-line vote, with the nine Democrats voting to kill the bill (YEA) and the six Republicans voting against the motion to PBI (NAY).

YEAS--Colgan, Houck, Howell, Saslaw, Miller, Y.B., Marsh, Lucas, Whipple, Reynolds--9.
NAYS--Wampler, Stosch, Quayle, Norment, Hanger, Watkins--6.

Lukily the Verizon call was dropped and it was all too apparent that the only green Waste Management was thinking about was reducing their corporate tax bill.

The big vote on Delegate Putney’s HB2410, which creates a defined-contribution option for future hires, is tomorrow in the same Senate Finance committee. It’s not too late to call members of the Senate Finance Committee (see names in vote above) to ask them not to mess with our VRS!