Virginia Democrats seemed pretty powerless up to the halfway point in the General Assembly session, as Republican majorities in both houses won passage of bills that increased gun rights and restricted gay rights, voting rights and abortion rights.
But as they reached crossover this week, Democrats managed to foil some of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R)’s key legislative priorities. The Senate voted down a plan to eliminate tenure-style job protections for teachers. It did pass McDonnell’s transportation bill — but first gutted it, then folded in a dramatic change to the way the state taxes gasoline.
That didn’t stop McDonnell from issuing a news release claiming victory.
“At Crossover, Governor McDonnell’s Legislative Initiatives Move Forward with Broad Bipartisan Support,” the headline read.
McDonnell certainly had more than transportation and tenure before the General Assembly. He said legislators had backed him on “jobs and economic development, K-12 education, higher education, pension system reform, government reform, transportation, public safety, and efforts to make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in America.”
But when the release specifically noted passage of bills aimed at “enhancing teacher quality” and providing additional transportation funding, it did so without noting that they had passed only in the House.
“What Capitol Square Does Governor McDonnell Live On?” the Senate Democratic Caucus replied in a release of its own.
“Bob McDonnell is too busy campaigning out of state to know that his legislative agenda is in tatters,” it continued. “Poor Bob. The only bipartisan component of his agenda is its rejection by the General Assembly.”