Vogel: Jobs would ease funding gap
November 19, 2009
By Cynthia Cather Burton - The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — State Sen. Jill H. Vogel, R-Upperville, says she’s “all ears” when listening to ideas about saving money and creating jobs and revenue for the cash-strapped state.
Virginia officials need to cut $250 million more from its already ravaged budget, then brace for a projected shortfall of nearly $3 billion for the next two years, legislative budget writers learned this week.
“Where are we going to find $3 billion to cut?” Vogel asked Wednesday after hosting a private fundraising breakfast for her 2011 campaign at The George Washington Hotel. “That’s an enormous amount of money.”
Sometimes the direst situations lead to the greatest opportunities, she said.
The state’s financial crisis could create a more “business-friendly” Legislature, she added. “We need jobs and revenue to solve our budget problems.”
The 27th District’s senator, 39, is seeking “creative ideas” to take to the 2010 session of the General Assembly, which begins Jan. 13 in Richmond.
Thirteen business and government leaders attended Wednesday's event, paying $250 to $2,500 a plate to voice concerns and offer suggestions. It was one of several fundraising events Vogel has held in advance of her 2011 re-election bid.
“It was a good opportunity to get together and talk with some folks,” said Vogel, who is in Portsmouth today for a special meeting of the Senate Finance Committee. “The best ideas and solutions are coming out of the business community.”
As she raises money for 2011, Vogel is mindful that the General Assembly will draw new legislative districts in 2011.
“I like to think that my district will stay reasonably intact,” she said. “I’m confident it will.”
The 27th District includes Winchester, Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah, and Warren counties, and parts of Fauquier and Loudoun counties.
Vogel was elected to her first four-year term in 2007, claiming the seat vacated by longtime state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester.
She won with 48 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat Karen K. Schultz and independent Donald C. Marro.
It was a costly victory. The Vogel campaign spent $1,228,467 on the general election and $519,944 on the Republican primary leading up to it (Vogel defeated challenger Mark D. Tate with nearly 60 percent of the vote).
She hopes her next campaign will not be so pricey, noting that she has worked hard to build support in the district.
“A state Senate race shouldn’t cost that much,” Vogel said, adding that the 2007 race was “unusally contentious.”
The freshman senator now has about $15,000 in her campaign war chest.
Dynamics changed, say lawmakers
November 05, 2009
By Drew Houff - The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Tuesday’s elections will change the dynamics of the General Assembly, lawmakers from the region say.
Republicans swept all three statewide offices and added four seats in the House of Delegates, where they now hold at least an 18-seat majority.
Another seat is subject to a recount because of Ron A. Villanueva’s 16-vote victory over incumbent Del. R.W. Mathieson, D-Virginia Beach.
If Villanueva keeps his lead, Republicans will hold 59 seats to 39 for the Democrats. The House also has two independents.
In the state Senate, Democrats hold a slight advantage, 21 seats to 19 for the GOP.
The 2010 General Assembly session will begin Jan. 13.
The election results have significantly altered the political landscape, said Del. Joe T. May, R-Loudoun County.
“It is going to change the dynamics of the General Assembly quite a lot,” he said. “Instead of a Democratic governor and Senate, we will have a Republican governor and a Republican-dominated House, making our work a lot easier.”
May won re-election along with Del. Beverly J. Sherwood, R-Frederick County, and Del. Clifford L. “Clay” Athey Jr., R-Front Royal.
Athey said Tuesday’s vote gives Republicans an opportunity to work to implement the agenda of Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell.
“We need to follow through on the issues Bob McDonnell ran on, which is spurring job growth, cutting taxes, and reducing the size of government,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity and a big responsibility.”
Athey added: “With decreased revenues, there are a lot of difficult decisions to make. Now is not the time to consider raising taxes or expanding the scope of government.
“At the state and local level, we have got to look at ways where we can reduce government,” he said, without hurting core services such as transportation, education and public safety.
Sherwood said voters signaled their displeasure with the federal government on Election Day.
“It was their opportunity, and they wanted to talk about it, whether it was their vote today or their concerns about the future,” she said.
Democrats still have a role to play in the General Assembly, noted Del. Ward L. Armstrong, D-Martinsville, the House minority leader.
“Our role hasn’t changed,” he said. “I think the role of the minority is to present alternative views to make certain both sides ... are considered.”
State Sen. Jill H. Vogel, R-Upperville, said the election could push Senate Democrats in either of two directions.
“In some instances it may force them to really dig in their heels since they won’t have a governor of their own party to do the heavy lifting and defend their ground,” she said by e-mail Wednesday. “On the other hand, I think it is a catalyst for greater compromise with such a narrow majority.”
“It will sure be a first for me to have a governor of my own party,” added Vogel, “and I look forward to more support and collaboration from the executive [branch] on issues where I need to go to the mat for my district. I like to think that I can work with anybody, no matter what their party, and that has been the case so far. But this can only make it easier.”
Vogel said her Commonwealth Caucus is an example of the two parties working together. The caucus — two Republicans and two Democrats — has been able to stake out some middle ground and advance legislation that otherwise could have failed.
“I don't always vote with my party; I vote what is in the best interest of my district and [the] same will happen with their side,” she said.