Column: Budget Stand Is About People

Column: Budget Stand Is About People

Democrats in Virginia’s State Senate voted down the Republican budget last week. Although this move is being used to label Democrats as obstructionists, the real story is much more complex. Senate Democrats are fighting to save important quality of life issues for the people of Virginia, not for political gain!

I have written about Republican overreach on “personhood,” birth control, adoption, abortion and voter suppression. Some extreme bills that threatened personal freedoms were stopped with the help of a few Republicans who support moderation rather than extremism. For this all of us should be grateful. Unfortunately, this Session has been more focused on social issues rather than jobs and the economy.

Four years ago every Republican senator voted against the budget. In 2004 the Republicans held up the budget until May. The new budget does not take effect until July 1. There is a long way to go to work out the differences. In reality, we have almost four months to reach some compromise and advert any shutting down of the government.

The media is sensationalizing this issue and labeling Senate Democrats as “obstructionists.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. We are trying to keep Virginia as one of the best places to do business, keep it well managed, and a great place to raise a family. If we do not, businesses will stop locating here. I believe that education is a cornerstone for a good quality of life and essential to keeping our Commonwealth and nation strong.

Budgets are complex. The budget that has been presented to us would fund K-12 education at the lowest level since 2007, “$400 million less than we spent in 2007.” Education funding is repeatedly being cut as student enrollment continues to increase. This is an assault on public education and is jeopardizing the future of our Commonwealth. Without adequately funded education, our people will not be able to compete and keep our economy and quality of life strong.

The budget we defeated does not “adequately address the needs of our children, the elderly, and the poor.” And, there is no will to fund our transportation needs on a continuing basis. Gridlock continues to impact the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads areas. Roads and bridges are being neglected at the risk of safety and imperiling our hard fought effort to keep Virginia the “best managed state” in the nation.

Fees and tolls, privatization of road building, and taking funding from the General Fund that now goes to education, public safety, health care, and the environment seem the only route many members of the General Assembly are willing to go.

Elected officials must be willing to fight for their constituencies, vote for what’s right for the people not for political gain. That’s what Virginia Democratic senators are doing. We need to arrive at a compromise, not shut down the government, to protect the people of Virginia. I hope we can achieve this goal just as we were able to stop some very contentious legislation that impacted our people.

Working together requires compromise on both sides of the aisle. Once again, this is about the people not politics. Senate Democrats are not seeking a government shutdown but trying to protect the priorities that have made our Commonwealth strong. After all, this is what we were elected to do.

Please continue to contact me on issues of concern:

Senator Linda T. Puller, P.O. Box 396, Richmond, VA 23218; phone: 804-698-7536; fax: 804-698-7651; email:

By Linda T. “Toddy” Puller

State Senator (D-36)