As things wind down in Richmond, this week has continued to focus on the budget impasse. Most discussions, meetings, and floor speeches focus on this unprecedented situation we are in. I took two opportunities to share my thoughts with my colleagues.
First, during the debate on HB1228, a bill which effectively gave us, members of the General Assembly, a pay raise, I shared my discomfort with addressing such legislation while still without a budget. To view those comments, click here.
Regardless of what makes it into the budget, nothing will matter unless we can get our Democrat colleagues to work with us on its passage. This has been the most serious issue in the past few weeks, and they are teaming together to prevent its passage, all the while asking for more spending with no offsetting cuts. I know we are all tired but I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and help hammer out a budget. I shared my desire to reach across the aisle and get to work with my colleagues in the Senate on Thursday. To watch that floor speech, click here.
I believe that, if state troopers, school teachers, and all of the other hard working men and women who serve our commonwealth are going to lose their compensation as a result of our failure to do our job in the Senate, it is our obligation to share in that hardship.
To this end, I am voluntarily returning my pay and per diem starting at adjournment and continuing until a budget is passed. I feel strongly that my Democratic colleagues should follow suit, as they are the only people standing in the way of the budget's passage.
In business, if you don't do your job, you should not expect to get paid. If Senate Democrats are unwilling to do their job, having been entrusted by voters with the wellbeing of the Commonwealth, they, like us, should lose their pay.
My preference would be for a Senate resolution withholding compensation for everyone until a budget is passed, but such a measure is impossible at this point in the session. Nonetheless, I hope my fellow Senators join me in returning our salaries and per diem from now until they do their jobs.
At this moment it appears that we will adjourn Sine Die tomorrow afternoon and immediately go into a special session to deal strictly with the budget, judicial appointments, and memorial or commending resolutions. It is my hope, that well before we return in April for the veto session, a budget agreement will be reached. I'll keep my fingers crossed and continue to update you along the way.