- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2006

RICHMOND — Gov. Timothy M. Kaine headed to New York yesterday without a legislative budget agreement in hand to show to the Wall Street agencies that set the state’s credit rating.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, had hoped for at least an agreement in principle, but the Senate and the House of Delegates remained deadlocked on a two-year plan to fund state services when the current budget expires along with the fiscal year on June 30.

The governor told reporters he planned to tell representatives of the bond-rating agencies today that he remains confident lawmakers will reach a compromise, but is ready to assert his emergency powers to maintain essential services if the chambers remain deadlocked.

“I will not let the legislature’s inaction prevent me from acting,” Mr. Kaine said.

Attorney General Bob McDonnell, a Republican, has privately told the 11 budget negotiators — five from the Senate, six from the House — that Mr. Kaine has no constitutional authority to run government unless legislators appropriate the necessary funds.

“This is not the attorney general versus the governor,” McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said. “This is a legal reading of the constitution that clearly shows the General Assembly has an obligation to pass a budget.”

Mr. McDonnell is expected to release a formal opinion on the issue this week.

Mr. Kaine, a lawyer, said he has reviewed the Virginia Constitution with other lawyers and has concluded that Mr. McDonnell is wrong.

The three branches of state government are equal, he said, and one cannot through inaction essentially destroy the other two.

Article 5 of the Virginia Constitution also says, in part: “The Governor shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Mr. Kaine said that provision would allow him to maintain essential services, but he declined to say whether he also would try to keep operations such as state parks and Alcoholic Beverage Control stores open.

He said he would outline a more specific plan for the public and lawmakers later if it appears a budget by June 30 is impossible.

Delegate Vincent F. Callahan Jr., Fairfax Republican and the lead House budget negotiator, said he doubts essential government services would be disrupted no matter which constitutional analysis is correct.

Someone would have to go to court to challenge the governor’s authority, he said, and the courts likely would sit on the issue until lawmakers resolve it.

Mr. Callahan and his Senate counterpart — John H. Chichester, Stafford Republican — accompanied Mr. Kaine on the trip to New York.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide