The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Raw Data: Chichester's Letter to Callahan

June 5, 2006

The Honorable Vincent F. Callahan, Jr.
Chairman, House Appropriations Committee
General Assembly Building, Ninth Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Dear Vince:

I have received your letter of June 5, 2006, and propose that our conferees should meet tomorrow one hour after adjournment.

As you will recall, our negotiations on the 2006-08 biennial budget broke off on Friday just as we were approaching agreement on the capital outlay plan when the House conferees injected transportation into the discussion. At the request of the House leadership, we had agreed that transportation would be resolved at a later date, and the Senate will honor that commitment.

The definition of good-faith negotiations is staying within the parameters of previously-agreed upon or understood agendas. Transportation is not and will not be in our agreed-upon agenda. The House has made it abundantly clear that it believes the budget should be resolved first and then, and only then, should transportation be addressed.

Regarding the constitutionality of the tax proposals in the Senate budget, I must remind you that the inclusion of new transportation revenues in Part V of the Senate budget was approved by the President of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor, in his ruling on this question during the 2006 regular session. Indeed, in the 2004 session tax increases were included in the state budget in a similar fashion, and this step was not challenged by the House.

The Honorable Vincent F. Callahan, Jr.
June 5, 2006
Page Two

In fact, Vince, shortly thereafter you mailed a fundraising letter extolling the accomplishments which were made possible by these very tax increases that were included in the 2004 Special Session. Specifically, in your fund-raising letter of July 21, 2004, you took credit for raising $1.5 billion of increased funding for Kindergarten through 12th grade education, and $600 million to ensure Virginia’s system of higher education remains one of the best in the nation. If you can take credit for the tax increases in 2004 which were made possible by stand-alone legislation as well as by inclusion of those measures in the budget two years ago, surely you cannot believe that such actions are unconstitutional in 2006.

Nevertheless, I too am anxious to get about the business of resolving our differences in the budget, and you can play a large role in that process by not inserting items that your leadership has stated they want to be addressed only after the budget is concluded.

We stand ready to work with you and the other House conferees to resolve our differences.


John H. Chichester