OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy



Sunday, June 04, 2006 :::
 

A Schapiro Column Worth Reading

The TD's Jeff Schapiro has a very interesting column this morning on budget negotiations past. And guess what? The seeds of what we are witnessing today were sown long ago:

A DEMOCRAT of the old school, Ed Willey, is probably responsible for the procedural collision between the Senate and the House of Delegates that is now a matter of course.

Willey was the tyrannical chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. In 1983 he decreed that the Senate would introduce its own version of the budget rather than wait until one drifted over from the House, where, from time immemorial, all appropriations had originated. Willey's thinking: The Senate, as a co-equal body, should no longer only react to the whims of the House.

Rather, the Senate, from the start of the legislative session, would challenge the House on spending. This rivalry further professionalized and empowered the staffs of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees. It also led to exploitation of the budget bill.

No longer was the budget just numbers, dollar signs, and decimal points. It became a policy document, a Christmas tree adorned with arcane language sometimes directing taxpayer dollars to questionable enterprises.

For example, Willey steered thousands to Richmond's Carillon. Because the World War I memorial technically is private, it supposedly was not entitled to public aid. The money was practically in the bank before anyone realized what Willey had done.

This is the sort of column I wish Jeff and other long-serving Virginia reporters would write more often. It helps place current events -- whether it's the budget, transportation, taxation, education, public safety and more -- in perspective. That's incredibly valuable for everyone who is still following these matters.

But, of course, writing such columns does not mean that Jeff or others cannot get their digs in where they wish. He does here, and in several places. But they are done so in a framework that makes them useful and, yes, effective.

And for those who wonder what the heck is going on here, no...it's not "cats and dogs, living together...mass hysteria" time. But I always did think the dog sort of looked like the keymaster.



::: posted by Norman Leahy at 6/04/2006 0 comments





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