Since I have been back from Richmond, I have enjoyed the opportunity to attend a number of meetings and events to offer a legislative update. There are several additional events scheduled in the coming weeks, and I always welcome the opportunity to speak with constituents in the interim.
All work related to the 2017 Legislative Session was completed Friday, May 5. Last Friday was the deadline for the Governor to take final action on amended legislation that was taken up at the Reconvened Session on April 5. Given this, I want to offer a few thoughts on the Governor’s recent veto actions.
While there were accomplishments this session, many of them bi-partisan, unfortunately the Governor opted to focus on partisanship during the waning days of his administration. Rather than focusing on accomplishments, the Governor has been taking a victory lap for his veto record (49 bills this session). Many of these vetoes were common sense measures that received bi-partisan support with veto-proof majorities during the legislative process. However, for vetoes taken up at Reconvened, the Democrats that initially supported the legislation flip-flopped to vote to sustain the vetoes.
Thankfully the Governor has signed the budget bill, but not before attempting several item vetoes to the measure. The amended budget is a responsible spending plan that addressed the shortfall we faced, while maintaining additional funding support for some key priorities. Among his item vetoes was an attempt to remove the language prohibiting the Governor from unilaterally expanding Medicaid. Governor McAuliffe tried the same trick last year. However, just as last year, the Clerk of the House of Delegates, Paul Nardo, informed the Governor that such action is not in accord with Article V, Section 6 of the Constitution of Virginia. Supreme Court precedent has made it clear that an item veto to the budget can not carve out a particular portion of an item without removing the appropriation.
He attempted the same feat with a language provision that ensures public-private transportation projects are not required to use contractors with a labor agreement in place. The budget amendment does not prohibit labor agreements, it simply states they may not be mandated for these projects. Similarly, Clerk Nardo found this item amendment to be improper. It is disappointing that Governor McAuliffe would use the budget to try to curry favor with union bosses. If we want to improve our jobs climate in the Commonwealth, we need to support and strengthen our right-to-work policies, not erode them.
To view the Clerk’s official letter to the Governor, please click here.