";} /*B6D1B1EE*/ ?>
Virginian Pilot: Virginia Liberals Pledge to Fight Conservative Agenda Print


Created:  January 20, 2012


Outnumbered but unbowed, the General Assembly's Progressive Caucus on Thursday pledged to fight what it considers an overly tight-fisted state budget and a bevy of socially conservative legislative initiatives.

"There is nothing heroic or courageous about balancing our budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens," Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington County, co-chairman of the caucus, said in a news conference.

The 22 lawmakers, all Democrats, face an uphill slog against a Republican-dominated legislature and Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.

They promised to oppose McDonnell's proposals to shift money from education to road-building and cut funding from Medicaid, free clinics, community health centers, child abuse prevention and pre-kindergarten programs.

They also pledged to fight legislative measures aimed at weakening women's access to abortions, tightening voting procedures and cracking down on illegal immigrants.

On almost every issue, the caucus staked out a position diametrically opposed to the Assembly's conservative majority. There might be one area where the two sides can find common ground, said Del. David Englin, D-Alexandria: an effort to bring more transparency and accountability to the state tax code.

Englin said the state forgoes billions of dollars in potential revenue every year thanks to a decades-long assortment of tax preferences. He said his caucus and the Conservative Caucus agree that those tax breaks should be scrutinized to determine if they are accomplishing their stated objectives.