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Is it time to censure Speaker Bill Howell?

Date published: 4/3/2014

When is it appropriate to censure the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates?

In my Jan. 26 op-ed ["McAuliffe can bring morality, ethics to state"], I wrote about the decline of ethics and morality in Virginia government and the fact that the Center for Public Integrity gave Virginia and seven other states a grade of "F."

On March 18, Speaker of the House William Howell addressed the Stafford County Board of Supervisors. He requested that they approve a resolution to support withdrawal of the Virginia Medicaid expansion budget from Gov. McAuliffe's latest state budget.

He said that if this was not done by the governor, the House Republicans would not approve the budget and state government would shut down on July 1, 2014. Furthermore, if that happened, local jurisdictions like Stafford would not receive state funding for education, social services, transportation, etc.

Following Speaker Howell's explanation of why he cannot support the Medicaid expansion, the Stafford BOS unanimously approved a previously printed resolution without reading it aloud for public disclosure.

The reason for the Republican majority's indefensible position, according to Howell, is that the country will be unable to pay its share of the Medicaid bill.

Surely, he knows that according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, the state with the second-highest total of per-capita federal funds received ($19,734) was Virginia. And about 25 percent of the state budget is from the federal government. Pretty good for the world's wealthiest, flat-broke country.

Should the Speaker of the House be censured for arm-twisting multiple local jurisdictions to fall in line and support him for political personal gain? Will it happen? In my dreams!

George Schwartz


The writer is a former chairman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.