The ABC's of the 2010 General Assembly

By Andy Jenks - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia lawmakers return to Richmond tomorrow for a two-month engagement that's bound to create a lot of losers, and very few winners. And to give you an idea of some of the biggest issues in play - we give you the ABC's of the 2010 session.

"A" as in alcohol: Governor-elect Bob McDonnell campaigned on a promise to privatize liquor sales. But lawmakers will have to grapple with the impact to small businesses.

"B" as in budget: The dominant issue for 2010. A $4 billion budget gap leaves no doubt about difficult choices to make.

"It's not just a question of, What is Bob McDonnell going to cut? It's, What can Bob McDonnell offer in  terms of cuts, and get a majority of the delegates and senators to agree with," said NBC12 Political Analyst Dan Palazzolo.

"C" as in counties: With less in state aid, local budgets face big questions: including what programs to cut, and what workers to lay off?

"We're really gonna take a defensive posture for most of the things, and trying to protect our county government budgets," said James Campbell of the Virginia Association of Counties.

"E" as in education: Teacher advocates predict thousands of layoffs if state lawmakers don't restore millions to public schools.

"R" as in retail: Local business lobbyists aren't happy about losing the "dealer discount" for business owners.

"We may look at capping the dealer discount so that it isn't one that just goes on and on, but this is  some monies in place to pay the retailer for being the tax collector for the Commonwealth," said George Peyton of the Virginia Retail Federation.

Finally, "T" as in transportation: Virginia's roads are crumbling, and VDOT is losing the money to pay for them. Jeff Southard of the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance said, "We believe a fuel tax, while not popular, is still the best user fee."

Altogether, it makes for an anxious 60-day session at the Capitol. "There is controversy here and it's gonna take a while to work through some of the differences," Palazzolo said.

Public safety will also come up for discussion. Redistricting likely will, as well, which affects the boundaries of each lawmaker's home district. The session gavels in Wednesday at noon.

(c) 2010. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.