Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lame Debate and Three Unanswered Questions: Funding, A-F, East Sea

It looks like this session will end, not with a bang, but with a whimper.  The morning began with the Democratic House Caucus and the Republican House Caucus Medicaid Expansion press conferences.  The Republicans worked to tie Governor McAuliffe to any government shutdown resulting from the budget stand-off, and the Democrats accused their counterparts of just saying "No."  Inspiring stuff – NOT!

One can only marvel at the failure of the Democrats to link the issue to the lives of real Virginians, and to articulate what they would do with the general funds made available by the expansion.  What would they do for home health care, for mental health, for the environment, and for education?  Answering that question would inspire support for their position, but I'm not holding my breath.

To their credit, House Republicans are bringing the teacher salary issue to the budget conference - 1%.  That's a start!  How about a bidding war?

With no budget in sight, the budget debate is tiresome, and neither side is putting their best foot forward.

The SOL reform bill, Delegate Greason's HB 930, gained final passage on a 36-4 vote in the Senate today.  This bill now heads for the Governor's desk.

The House rejected the Senate amendment to Del. Landes' HB 1229.  Presumably, the conference committee will be the same as the one for SB 324.  Both bills address A-F school grading delay.

For education the unanswered questions remaining at this point in the session, other than funding, are: “What will we call the sea between Korea and Japan?” (SB 2) and, “For how long will the implementation of A-F school grading be delayed?” (SB 324 and HB 1229).