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Vote ‘yes’ on the redistricting amendment

The 2021 General Assembly Special Session continues to move slowly, as the House did not meet at all last week.

We were called back to Richmond to address the $2.7 billion hole that must be filled. We are a month into the session now, and we haven’t done anything related to the budget. There’s no road map. House Democrats are not talking to Senate Democrats. Their relationship is strained at best, so we are left waiting on them to decide what they want to do.

Meanwhile, our schools need funding to get their doors back open. Instead, Democrats are focused on things like making a $48 million cut to our local police — and a 25% cut to the state police. School resource officer grants are on the chopping block too.

Our amendments to provide education access tools — the READ Fund — still have not been acted on. Republicans have $100 million we want to set aside for computers, tutoring, supplies — things parents need for their children, so they don’t fall behind. Democrats have shown no interest in any of this.

One of the more disturbing things we’re hearing is pressure from the far left to tap into the state’s rainy-day fund. Virginia has always kept its fiscal house in good order, and raiding the emergency savings account that is there to ensure we don’t default on bonds is a great way to wreck that.

One of the mantras we are hearing now is, “If this isn’t a rainy day, then what is?” The problem with that thinking though is that it does not consider the massive amounts of new spending in this budget two years ago. Democrats came into the 2020 session with lots of extra money on hand, and they spent it all. Now that they have been forced to cut back some of that spending, they want to dip into savings.

That would be a disaster for Virginia. We have kept our AAA bond rating for decades, and we’re one of a few states that still has that distinction. Abandoning that commonsense approach to budgeting to pay for the Democrats’ wish list would be sacrificing short-term gain for long-term pain.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT 1 ON THE NOVEMBER BALLOT

In November, you will have the opportunity to vote on Constitutional Amendment 1, which will decide how our district maps are drawn here in Virginia. This amendment is about drawing fair maps. This is something that has been a decade in the making. It is an extraordinary accomplishment to even get it onto the ballot.

For the first time, if passed, this process will be done not only in the sunlight, but with partisan motives expressly removed. As of now, the system works like this — the majority party goes into a back room somewhere with a computer and comes out with maps they like. Public input is limited, and one chamber can hold the other chamber hostage.

With the amendment, all processes come out into the sunlight — with an explicit requirement that “how people vote” will have no impact on the maps. For the first time, Virginia will draw lines based on where people live and where communities of interest lie, with respect for city and county lines where possible.

Opponents of this amendment say it has politicians in it. That is true. But they are balanced by an equal number of regular citizens who are not political operatives. Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate are all balanced among themselves, and they’re balanced by citizen members.

This amendment is set up so that no one group or party can control the system. Don’t let the politicians rig the system. It is very important that you vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 1.

A ‘yes’ vote takes the smoke-filled room of decades past and opens it to the average Virginian.

It was sad to hear of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg over the weekend after such a courageous battle with cancer. My sincere condolences go out to her family.

DEL. TOMMY WRIGHT can be reached via email at DelTWright@house.virginia.gov or (804) 698-1061.