August 2011 Archives
Today is Primary Day in Virginia. Put your address into the map below, and you can find a list of candidates at the Virginia State Board of Elections website here.
ProgressVA today responded to Governor McDonnell's announcement of a larger than anticipated end of year surplus, reminding Virginians that accounting gimmicks and conservative revenue projections won't solve the state's true fiscal problems.
"This 'surplus' is the result heavy borrowing, substantial cuts to services, federal stimulus, creative accounting, and not paying our bills," said Anna Scholl, Executive Director of ProgressVA. "It's time for long term solutions. It's time for a balanced approach."
"While we appreciate the governor's attempt to boost his resume for a Vice Presidential bid, Virginia taxpayers deserve facts, not gimmicks. The truth is that Virginia faces an $800 million budget shortfall for the 2012 budget cycle, over $17B in unfunded liabilities for the state pension fund, and a quickly growing balance on the state's credit card."
Virginia is constitutionally bound to balance its budget. Revenue surpluses at the end of a biennial budget cycle are simply the result of tax collections out-‐pacing conservative revenue projections. Furthermore, the majority of excess funds at the end of the budget cycle are already statutorily committed to a variety of programs, including the state's rainy day fund and Chesapeake Bay cleanup, leaving few discretionary dollars to apply to underfunded programs.
ProgressVA supports a balanced approach to the state budget championed by the Better Choices for VA coalition that combines sensible cuts with increased revenue through closing wasteful tax loopholes, ending irresponsible corporate giveaways and modernizing our tax code.
Women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care is under attack in Virginia. Anti-choice politicians are working to impose medically unnecessary and burdensome regulations on women's health care centers to restrict access to safe and legal abortions. These regulations, which single out abortion providers among outpatient clinics, could also have the effect of eliminating access to cancer and STD screenings, family planning services, and comprehensive reproductive care for numerous minority and low-income women.
The newly launched Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health is helping lead the fight against this new TRAP (Targeted Legislation of Abortion Providers) and ProgressVA is excited to be joining them on this extremely important issue. From their website:
"The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health formed in 2011 as a response to the attack on women's health and safety prompted by Senate Bill 924. The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health strives to protect and ensure access for all women in all regions of Virginia to safe first-trimester abortion and comprehensive reproductive healthcare services. The Coalition is committed to ensuring any regulations are based solely on medical and public health considerations. The Coalition is opposed to excessive, burdensome or unneeded regulations that undermine patient access to medical care for political or ideological purposes."
Virginia's Speaker of the House, Bill Howell, wasn't too happy about an August 5th Roanoke Times editorial titled, "Who Writes Virginia's Laws," exposing how ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, writes laws and influences legislators across the country, including here in VA. Howell is a former national chairman this business-backed group that allows corporations to sponsor their organization and write their model legislation. Firing back in the Roanoke Times today, Howell defended ALEC's pay-to-play process. Howell decried the description of ALEC by the Roanoke Times, stating its nothing more than a venue for legislators to talk "with the business community when writing legislation that affects businesses."
You haven't heard of the American Legislative Exchange Council? Well, not very surprisingly, that's what they want, but please continue reading and I will share what they don't want you to know.
The Communicaton Workers of America have gone on strike against Verizon to save bargaining rights and middle-class jobs for over 45,000 families - many of whom are right here in Virginia. Despite the recession and how hard these union families are hurting, Verizon is trying to force $20,000 in pay and benefits cuts per worker--while the execs and shareholders are pocketing increased profits.
On Monday, August 15, you can stand with them as they rally across Virginia. Via their website, here is a map of CWA picket lines in Virginia. Click on the markers for times:
UPDATE: Here are some additional actions from the CWA:
- "Like" the strikers on Facebook here and change your Facebook and/or Twitter profile picture in solidarity here.
- Click here to demand that Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam value employees' work and share his corporation's success with those who make it possible.
- Click here to sign and Tweet an act.ly petition demanding Verizon drop its outrageous concessionary demands.
- To Tweet about the strike, use the hashtag #verizonstrike and feel free to direct to @VZLaborfacts.
- Drop off water and snacks to strikers at the locations listed or by calling the Locals in your area for special events that they might need.
Bill Bolling recently emailed his supports, letting them know that last week he had been named Chairman of Mitt Romney's campaign in Virginia - as he was in 2008.
Just today at the Iowa State Fair, Bolling's buddy Mitt Romney told a crowd that "Corporations are people," defending them against increased taxes in favor of cuts to Social Security and Medicare - much to the chagrin of those in attendence. Here is video via Talking Points Memo:
Is this the type of thinking that Bill Bolling thinks we need in Virginia? Is the out-of-touch mentality that the Lieutenant Governor is supporting going to help average Virginian's who are already struggling?
Real families are hurting in Virginia right now. We need solutions and passion - we don't need our elected officials to protect corporate profits, or to promote politicians who do.
But just how many lobbyists do you think this 1,500 member grass-roots coalition has looking out for it in Richmond?
The 2,000 members of the Virginia State Police Association are represented by one lobbyist according to VPAP. The Virginia Tech Foundation that represents the school and arguably the 30,000 plus full-time students who go there has two.
But after just a quick look at VPAP this afternoon, the sponsors of this 1,500 grass-roots coalition have over 20 lobbyists working on their behalf. That's right, if we round down to 20 - while Virginia Tech has conservatively 1 lobbyist for every 15,000 students, the Virginia Energy Independence Alliance has 1 lobbyist for every 75 members.
For a full breakdown of some of the Virginia Energy Independence Alliance's sponsors listed in the Members section of their website, please continue reading.
Two days ago, the Washington Post highlighted the large amount of money that groups have already donated to the Virginia elected officials they lobby. The nonchalant attitude these groups have towards the hundreds of thousands of dollars they spend to buy access and influence in the Commonwealth is emblematic of the severe lack of accountability that exists amongst these high donor special interests groups.
Average Virginians should never have to pay for their representatives to listen to them and their desire for jobs. Their needs should never be second to the lobbyist with the deepest pockets. In a Richmond culture - that has absolutely no limit to donations - it is time to take a hard and honest look at who our elected officials are really working for.
Washington Post: Washington loses more jobs than it gained, June report shows
Richmond Times Dispatch: Richmond area unemployment rate rises to 7.1%
Virginian-Pilot: Jobless rate in Hampton Roads climbs to 7%
Daily Progress: Area jobless rates all rise
News Leader: Area unemployment rose in June
Register Bee: Danville area unemployment ticks up
Martinsville Bulletin: Jobless rates go up