Four years ago, Governor McAuliffe was sworn into office pledging to be a bipartisan governor and to work with the General Assembly. But as his term comes to an end, it is obvious that this was nothing more than a political platitude.
Governor Terry McAuliffe has broken the record for most vetoes by a governor during a single term. This new record is the disappointing result of four years of failed leadership by a disengaged governor, and is certainly not something to be celebrated. It's clear that he prefers Washington-style executive action instead of the dialogue and collaboration that Virginians expect and deserve.
Past governors, Republican and Democrat, would work with and allow state government to be a resource to the legislature. But Governor McAuliffe, his cabinet, and his staff, are largely absent during the General Assembly session, choosing to veto bills after-the-fact instead of working productively to get things done.
The governor vetoed 97 pieces of legislation to date. Only seven of those bills dealt with so-called "social issues." Over 60 percent of his vetoes were on commonsense bills to make our elections fairer and secure, expand opportunities in education, and strengthen Virginia's economy by making the Commonwealth more business friendly. As we have seen repeatedly over the last four years, his rhetoric does not match reality.
On Thursday, McAuliffe signed two vetoes live on the radio, with a mixture of delight and defiance. The same day, he vetoed a bill under which schools would have to notify parents of assignments that potentially involved sexually explicit material. McAuliffe also vetoed legislation that would have circumvented local school boards in the establishment of charter schools. But he was not done.
The Governor thumped four more education bills. Among those was a measure that would have established the Virginia Virtual School, a statewide online public education system. Another would have moved Virginia closer to vouchers for private schools, at the expense of public schools.
This is a governor whose legislative legacy is not bills passed. It is bills vetoed. I wish he would find greater joy in celebrating bipartisan legislative victories than in partisan vetoes. It is disheartening that we have a governor who disagrees with the majority of the elected officials, more than any other governor to date.
Governor McAuliffe has until March 27 to dispose of all the legislation on his desk. The General Assembly will consider the latest vetoes beginning a week from Wednesday. This will certainly make for some lively floor debates during the veto session.
It is a privilege to represent you in the Virginia House of Delegates. I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office. I will be spending the coming weeks meeting and visiting with various groups, businesses and constituents giving updates on the 2017 session. You can email me at DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)698-1059. You can also join the conversation on our social media page www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.