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Del. Ken Plum: Protracted Legislative Session

by Del. Ken Plum — November 19, 2014 at 1:00 pm 16 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThe Virginia General Assembly adjourned its regular session in early March this year and immediately went into special session that while still continuing has become the longest special session ever. The special session was needed to complete work on the biennial budget and to fill judicial vacancies.

While technically in special session, we actually only meet as an assembled body a few days every couple of months. We passed a budget but have had to revise it because of declining state revenue. We considered expansion of Medicaid services in what some termed a “sham” session as the majority party had indicated its no-compromise opposition to closing the coverage gap. We filled a number of judicial positions although the drawn-out political process of selecting judges has made the flaws of the current method painfully apparent.

Since the legislature is in session, albeit a special session, the Governor is prevented from making judicial appointments. As at the federal level, there is gridlock as Republicans fight among themselves as to who should be appointed to the bench.

The necessity of revising a budget soon after its passage reflects what a report from Stateline terms “volatility” in income tax revenue that is disproportionately affected by economic booms and busts. The problem that Virginia and other states are having is trying to predict revenues with stock market fluctuations and other cyclical events that are having a larger impact on incomes, especially for the wealthy causing income taxes and capital gains taxes to vary widely from year to year.

A report from Standard and Poor’s Rating Services found that overall revenues in the top most income-tax-dependent states like Virginia have grown only 5.25 percent since 2009 compared to 9.32 percent in 1980-1989 and 5.7 percent in 1990-1999.

Virginia’s effort to balance its budget is made more difficult by what the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis terms “willful ignorance” to recognize the positive impact expanding Medicaid would have on the state’s budget.

At a recent Statewide Policy Summit I attended that the Institute sponsored, a report “RX for an Ailing Virginia: Budget Savings in Expansion States Can Happen in Virginia” was released. The report contends that 27 states and Washington, D.C. have freed up precious resources for critical needs like education by closing their health coverage gaps and saving money on medical care, and that savings in Virginia could amount to $161 million.

While proponents of Medicaid expansion have contended that the program would save states money, the evidence is now available from its first year of implementation — Kentucky has saved $80 million, Arkansas $89 million and Michigan $100 million. Virginia would save money by using federal money to replace state-funded healthcare programs.

Virginia taxpayers are the losers for the state not recognizing and dealing with its systemic budget challenges and for its bullheadedness in not expanding its Medicaid program. Responsible leadership on the part of legislators, not a protracted year-long legislative session, is needed for the Commonwealth.

Ken Plum (D) represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. His views do not necessarily represent those of Reston Now.

  • HP

    GTFO Plum.

  • Laura Calacci

    Regurgitation of same old story from Plum. WORD VOMIT. No matter how he starts, it always turns to Medicaid expansion.

    • Dexter Scott

      Vomiting on Republicans plays to his core constituency.

  • MJay

    Why does Del. Plum insist on attacking Republicans in virtually every post? Instead of getting an update on what he has done for the community, or a synopsis on developments in Richmond that affect us in Reston, we get attack after attack after passive-aggressive attack. I’m an independent and am frankly sick of die-hard partisans on both sides. Ken Plum is as negative as they come, and his bias and inability to compromise or otherwise work with Republicans on substantive matters demonstrates that he does not have Reston’s best interests in mind. If we had a Republican delegate doing the same thing, I would have the same visceral reaction. It just so happens that our career delegate is a partisan Democrat.

    • Rich H

      Plum attacks Republicans policies in many posts because they are so terrible. Why not return Virginia’s tax dollars for the purpose of health care for our citizens? Failure to do so based on some warped partisan ideology is criminal in my mind. I’ve hired Ken Plum over and over again, along with the majority of my Reston neighbors, because I know he’s respected on both sides of the aisle by the reasonable ones in the legislature. Unfortunately, the lunatics are running the asylum.

      • Dexter Scott

        Crazed ideologue votes for crazed ideologue. What a surprise…

  • Cathie Gorman Freeman

    Mr. Plum was sent to Richmond to do a job. He’s reporting on exactly what’s going on. There is a good reason why he keeps being re-elected. I don’t think he’s negative at all. But he is truthful.

    • Rational Reston

      He’s not “reporting exactly what’s going on”, he’s expressing his opinion. From his opinion pieces and voting record, it does not seem as though he’s doing his job of helping govern the state, he’s there to push a partisan agenda.

      But you’re right there is a reason that he keeps getting re-elected, it’s because of the lemmings that vote in this district.

  • Rational Reston

    So last week, Delegate Plum wrote this piece: https://www.restonnow.com/2014/11/12/del-ken-plum-from-polarization-to-compromise/ where he writes “both sides must engage in a conversation in order to find common ground and reach compromises that are so important for the public.”….that lasted long didn’t it Ken? Please step down and let someone who WANTS to find solutions could give it a try.

  • De Earhart

    Perhaps he’s on the attack because the Republicans are the cause of the problem. The facts are in–Medicaid Expansion is saving states money and providing healthcare to millions. The American people are too lazy to dig for the truth . They are only intereted in listening to a t.v. ads which distort the truth and are always framed based on the individual paying for the ad.

    • Dexter Scott

      Where do you think that Federal money comes from? The same place that state money comes from — the taxpayers. It is impossible for Medicaid expansion to save money. All it can do is transfer it around.

      • Adrian Havill

        But it can make the world a healthier and better place.

        • Um

          You’re missing the point. Plum says this will “save money” — which is a total lie.

      • east297

        Amen!

  • Cathie Gorman Freeman

    Talk about partisan attacks. That’s just what we see here. Well, it”s unfortunate. Mr. Plum is our delagate. You’ll just have to put up with him for the forseeable future.

    • Reston is full of lemmings

      Being young and Republican means you have no heart.
      Being old and Democrat means you have no brain.

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