- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2009



Schools face redo of ‘10 budget plans

School systems across the state may need to revise their 2010 budget proposals to adjust for a state accounting error that overpaid 17 counties by a total of $31 million last year.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said he will not ask any county to return the overpayments. However, many school system leaders submitted budget plans for the next school year in early December, before they were aware of the mistakes. Now they are learning they will receive less state aid than expected and are scrambling for places to save money.

Anne Arundel schools leaders submitted their budget in early December. They learned they were overpaid by $5 million shortly before Christmas. Chief Operating Officer Alex Szachnowicz said accommodating the state’s error will be a “tremendous challenge.”



Committee OKs death-penalty bills

The Senate Courts Committee endorsed legislation Wednesday to expand the death penalty, but the true test will be whether it can get enough votes in the full Senate to override a veto by Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat.

The committee advanced one bill to expand the death penalty to murder accomplices and another to allow it for those who kill a fire marshal or his assistant while on the job.

For the past two years, Mr. Kaine has vetoed expansion of Virginia’s “triggerman rule,” which reserves capital punishment for the person who actually does the killing. While the House had enough votes to overturn the veto, the Senate came up short both years.

Virginia has executed more inmates than any state except Texas since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.


Moran hires ex-Dean fundraiser

Gubernatorial candidate Brian J. Moran has hired the Democratic strategist who pioneered Howard Dean’s 2004 online fundraising effort.

Mr. Moran on Wednesday announced the hiring of Joe Trippi as a media consultant and general strategist for this year’s campaign. He is in a three-way June primary.

In 2003, Mr. Dean flashed brightly but briefly to the front of the Democratic primary pack with his groundbreaking Internet fundraising effort.

Barack Obama used a similar online strategy to target small donors and identify volunteers en route to being elected president.

Mr. Trippi has also worked as a strategist for John Edwards’ presidential bid last year and for Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.


Brothers grew pot in national forest

Two Rockbridge County brothers have pleaded guilty to growing more than 1,000 marijuana plants in the George Washington National Forest.

U.S. Attorney Julia Dudley said Michael Jay Shifflett, 46, and Jackson David Shifflett, 51, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Lynchburg to charges related to cultivation of the plants.

She said the Glasgow men admitted growing the plants in a secluded area of the forest. They were arrested in August.

They face a maximum of life in prison and a $4 million fine.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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