Speaking to a sold-out Fairfax County Democratic Committee “Road to Richmond” brunch in Springfield Sunday, Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova urged the numerous state senators and delegates present to avoid making deep cuts in the state budget by passing on expenses to county and city jurisdictions.
Citing Fairfax County’s anticipated $316 million budget shortfall going into the new year, with an added $176 million shortfall confronting the county’s school system, Bulova urged the state legislature, also facing a $4 billion shortfall at the state level, to consider three “principles” as she outlined them: 1. don’t shift the state’s shortfall burden to localities, 2. don’t make long-term structural changes in the relationship between the state and localities and 3. don’t shift the so-called “Composite Index” to the disadvantage of Fairfax County and other regional jurisdictions.
“I am hopeful that a year from now, we will be able to say that, in the face of the budget difficulties, we took care of people and funded the things that mattered most,” she said.
Falls Church’s two representatives in Richmond, State Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple and State Del. Jim Scott, each represented their delegations from the region in remarks to the function.
Whipple said that Gov, Tim Kaine’s proposal to eliminate the so-called car tax benefit to raise $1.9 billion toward closing the state’s gap “is not likely to occur” (due to opposition by the new Republican Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell), meaning that another $1.9 billion in cuts beyond Kaine’s already-drastic proposals will likely occur.
“We may be looking at a different kind of commonwealth,” she said, noting that in the area of education, McDonnell favors charter schools and vouchers.
Scott focused on the task of redistricting that will face the legislature in 2011, saying that “for the first time ever in Virginia, redistricting will be done with one party having the majority in one house (the state senate–ed.) and the other in the other house.” He said he’s hopeful that, in that situation, “a reasonably fair partisan redistricting effort” will occur.
Much attention at the event was paid to the upcoming Jan. 12 special election to fill the vacated seat in the 37th Senate district, and an upcoming special election to fill the vacated county school board seat in the Mason District.
In the 37th Senate District, which covers precincts in the Braddock, Springfield and Sully districts of Fairfax County, Democratic Del. Dave W. Marsden is running against Republican former county school board member Steve M. Hunt in the election next Tuesday. The election is to fill the seat vacated by the election as attorney general last November of Kenneth Cuccinelli II.
Hunt, described as an “outspoken conservative on social and economic issues,” prevailed over two challengers in a GOP “firehouse primary” vote on Dec. 1.
Democrats are hopeful of gaining the seat, Del. Scott told the News-Press this week, because Marsden represents the strongest candidate the party has put forth to represent that district in many years.
A special school board election in the Mason District will be held to fill the vacancy resulting from the election of Kaye Kory to the state legislature in November.
Democats leaving to Richmond for the first time this month include Scott Surovel, Mark Keam and Kory. All the legislators entering new terms will be officially sworn in on Jan. 13.
At Sunday’s brunch, Fairfax County Democratic Committee Chair Mary Ann Hovis said that while there were setbacks for the party last year, “We vow to work harder than ever.”
“Fairfax County has become ground zero for the other party to regain its foothold in Virginia,” she said, “But we have a vibrant, effective committee standing ready to meet the challenge.”