House Republicans passed a good budget over the weekend. They recognized the growing problems in our economy and took steps to address that. But Senate Republicans proposed a budget that was stronger on fiscal responsibility. They didn’t dip as much into the rainy day fund and kept spending under control. In a surprising showing of solidarity, most Senate Republicans broke from the Democrats and voted against their budget, which included new programs, a significant dip into the rainy day fund and a gas tax hike.
Speaking of the gas tax, Senate Democrats have made a mistake on this one. They propose to raise the tax and use the money to balance the budget—not build and improve roads. How can we ask our citizens to pay more at the pump for roads when we use that very road money for other things? We can’t and we shouldn’t. These types of proposals will make it even harder to make transportation improvements down the road. A few short months after making campaign promises to solve the problem, Senate Democrats have taken us a few steps back on transportation.
I am really a little surprised that Senate Democrats would propose spending for new programs when revenues are dropping. I shouldn't be. I think this really comes down to the Democrats carrying the water for Governor Kaine. Having to do something you probably don’t want to do is one downside of your party controlling the big house.
But the budget debate is far from over. I see an impasse on the horizon. House Republicans will never go for the new spending. The question is how far Senate Democrats are willing to go to support their Governor.
Finally, I want to thank Senators Wampler and Stosch for their leadership on Senate Finance in opposing the budget. I wonder if the anti-government Republicans now believe the internal fighting was worth having the Democrats control the Senate. I feel confident that a Republican controlled Senate would not have passed such a bad budget.