Last week we reported that Sen. John Miller, D-Newport News, was touting a budget amendment he sponsored to give Christopher Newport University an additional $2 million to help build a new student services center.
“This appropriation will continue the transformation of our great university," Miller said.
Then on Thursday, as part of the Senate Democrats' effort to stop the chamber's spending plan dead in its tracks, Miller voted against complete budget proposal.
That has Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. "Tommy" Norment, R-James City County, hopping mad.
Norment has contended that his Democratic colleagues are holding up the budget in retaliation for "bruised egos" they're nursing over Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling using his tie-breaking vote to give the GOP control of the evenly divided Senate where both parties hold 20 seats.
So after reading Miller's comments in Saturday's Shad Plank notebook, Norment dashed off a response saying Miller's actions were "a level of hypocrisy and cynicism you just don’t see every day."
“There’s just one problem with Senator Miller’s taking credit for obtaining this funding,” Norment said. “He voted against the budget that contained the money and is voting to hold the budget hostage for purely political reasons.
“First John Miller asked the Senate to approve $2 million in funds for CNU. His colleagues included the funds he requested. John Miller then turns around and votes against the budget that includes the funds he requested. Adding insult to injury, he then takes credit for obtaining the funding he just voted against. That’s a level of hypocrisy and cynicism you just don’t see every day.
“John Miller’s votes against this budget carry real consequences. If John Miller or one of his Democratic colleagues does not vote in favor of a budget, there will be no budget – and no $2 million for the CNU Student Services Center. There’ll be no funding for anything in higher education, or in public schools or law enforcement or anything else that requires state funding. And, John Miller has it entirely within his power to fix that.
“It’s bad enough that Senator Miller is blocking the passage of the budget. But to then take credit for funding included in the budget he’s blocking is just wrong.”
Miller will have another chance this week to vote on the budget, as the Senate prepares to take up the House of Delegates version, which was amended in the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday to mirror the version the Senate originally put forth.
But at this point it looks as if Senate Democrats will continue to hold together as a caucus under Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, and again vote to sink the spending plan.
It should be noted that there is no love lost between Miller and Norment. During last year's Senate race Norment said his "number one priority" was to unseat Miller and replace him with Republican candidate Mickey Chohany.
That race was heavily targeted by the state's top Republicans in their efforts to win an outright majority in the state Senate. Miller was able to beat back the challenge by Chohany and his backers and stop the Republican onslaught at an even split in the chamber.