A week-long tour of Virginia facilities seeking construction money from the state legislature ended today with the promise from one legislative leader that Northern Virginia will get "its fair share" of approved projects.
That assurance by Del. Richard L. Bagley (D-Hampton), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, followed the scoffing remarks of Richmond Sen. Edward E. Willey that Northern Virginia Community College might not get the financing it wants because he believed it offers classes in basket weaving and belly dancing.
"As much as I love and respect Sen. Willey," Bagley said in an interview, "the people of Northern Virginia shouldn't worry" that their requests for funds would be treated frivolously.
"The orderly process" by which the budget is prepared, Bagley said, "precludes snap judgments by a single legislator."
State Sen. Clive DuVal (D-Fairfax), a member of Willey's finance committee, said "the senior from Richmond owes us one" as a result of the stir created by his off-the-cuff statements following a visit to the college's Annandale campus on Wednesday. Northern Virginia college officials said the school, the largest of Virginia's community colleges does not teach either basket weaving or belly dancing.
Del. Dorothy McDiarmid (D-Fairfax), one of three Northern Virginians on Bagley's committee, said Willey's comments "reinforce the false impression that 'Richmond' is out to get us."
Willey, however, appeared to enjoy the tempest he caused among the 40 legislators and state officials who participated in the 1,500-mile, 44-stop tour. He repeated his theme in a chat with officials of Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach, warning them that he is a "tough guy" when it comes to granting funds for nonvocational programs at the state's two-year colleges.
This week's tour was the second step in a year-long process for weeding out, in Willey's words, "the needy from the greedy."
Gov. John N. Dalton gets the next crack in the process when he submits his proposal for state spending in the two years beginning July 1, 1982. The pipe-smoking Bagley, who wields as much power as Willey in the budget process, said that despite Willey's "premature shouting," he was impressed with Northern Virginia's need for additional facilities. Bagley said it might be more cost-efficient to construct or renovate state-owned buildings than continue to lease the 40 percent of the space now used by the school's four campuses.
Bagley, who has been on the Appropriations Committee 14 of his 16 years in the General Assembly, said each of the state's 10 congressional districts is represented on the 20-member committee to assure that geographic considerations are included in the decision-making process.
Nonetheless, Bagley conceded that he has heard more complaints from Northern Virginia than other areas about what projects are approved. Bagley said his committee "will evaluate all requests in a professional manner," but noted that the state will have only $150 million to spend for the $740 million in proposed capital projects in the coming biennium.