Winchester Star – April 12, 2016
By the time we’re done with this, I’m going to feel bad for those other 49 governors,” Gov. McAuliffe gushed last summer at the rollout of “Go Virginia,” a splashy new economic development initiative aimed at getting the state, still suffering the effects of sequestration-related defense cuts, back on track.
“Go Virginia — I am all in,” Mr. McAuliffe exclaimed, by way of adding emphasis.
Well, now’s he’s “out” — that is, if he doesn’t get his way — and the reason seems to be too much legislative involvement. The fact that the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed legislation creating an oversight board was a bit too much for The Macker. He seems to think there’s a separation-of-powers issue at hand, and so has asked Attorney General Mark Herring for a ruling.
Given that this is the most political of administrations, we could only guess how Mr. Herring would come down on the matter. He did not disappoint, stating the legislation, as written, posed a “significant risk” to separation-of-powers principles.
The governor’s retreat on something he so loudly trumpeted has prompted quizzical commentary from legislative leaders.
“The legislation has been out there for months,” noted House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights. “It’s not like this is a surprise. If you have a serious concern — this is not some low-profile piece of legislation — why on Earth wouldn’t you express it?”
Or at least take steps to amend the legislation more to his liking — which Mr. McAuliffe has done. In essence, what the governor now proposes is an expansion of the board — from 22 members to 24 — that will give the executive branch majority control of the membership. The measure passed by the Assembly had tipped those scales in favor of the Legislature.
By all indications, what Mr. McAuliffe envisions is something along the lines of the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, and the $36 million of taxpayer revenue appropriated to partner with “Go Virginia” would be his own personal little economic sandbox — sans muscular legislative oversight.
That would be redundancy we don’t need.