This story has been updated.
There’s nothing like a state budget standoff to bring out the best in opposition research.
Republicans have just unearthed an eight-year-old letter signed by then-Arlington County board chairwoman Barbara A. Favola. Today, Favola is a state senator, one of 20 Democrats who have voted down two budgets. The state Democratic party contends that local governments will not be hurt by the stalemate.
But when Favola signed on to the 2004 letter to then-governor Mark Warner (D), she saw budget delays quite differently.
“Responsible governing dictates that you adopt a budget and comprehensive tax reform package in a timely fashion,” said the letter, signed by Favola and the leaders of six other Northern Virginia jurisdictions.
“... Delayed action or supporting a referendum question on this important matter would be a gross abdication of responsibility, an abdication never seen in the history of the Commonwealth.”
Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) shared Favola’s old letter with the rest of the Senate in a floor speech Tuesday. Favola did not respond then to his comments, but later issued a prepared statement.
“Eight years ago, in 2004, as Chairman of the Arlington County Board I, along with other mayors and chairs, asked state officials to produce a budget by mid-April,” Favola said in the statement. “Today in the 2012 Session of the General Assembly, we are still in the first week of March. I am confident that the Senate will adopt a budget in plenty of time to fund the next fiscal year’s Programs— which start on July 1, 2012.
“Some Republicans are upset that the Democrats are not just ‘going along.’ I believe I have an obligation to fight for my constituents and the quality of life they cherish so deeply. I am working in good faith across the aisle to produce a budget that will serve all Virginians. There are certain areas, however, that are a priority to me and I am insisting that these areas get adequately funded. They include K-12 public education, safety net programs such as community-based health centers, transit funding— particularly rail to Dulles, and services for low-income children and the elderly.
“I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will work with me to achieve my budgetary goals, understanding that the ‘give and take’ may take a bit longer than expected but will result in better public policy and a better budget.”
Favola’s old letter was the second zinger that Republicans have sent her way in as many weeks. The Republican Party of Virginia issued a news release late last month blasting Favola for skipping out on a budget vote so she could appear on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” program to discuss a bill that would have required most women to get an ultrasound involving a vaginal probe before an abortion.
“Where was Barbara when the budget vote happened?,” the press release asked, sarcasm oozing. “Some family emergency? Medical issue? Nope. She was in the basement of the General Assembly Building, appearing on ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews.’ ”
The release concluded up with: “Senate Democrats: Putting Cable News Face Time Ahead of Constituents. Because You’ll Always Have Constituents, But Chris Matthews Only Shows Up Once in a While.”
Favola has defended the appearance, telling the Sun Gazette: “My decision to speak up on ‘Hardball’ about the war on women was the right decision. The Republican war on women has garnered national attention, and I am proud to be among the voices speaking up.”