Showing posts with label Governor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Governor. Show all posts

Thursday, July 15, 2010

State Surplus Will Go Towards Bonus, Schools, Water, Roads

The state finished the last fiscal year with a $220 million surplus, Gov. Bob McDonnell confirmed today, which means state workers will get a bonus in December.

McDonnell told a news conference that the money will go to a $82 million, 3 percent one-time bonus for state employees, to local school divisions, to the Water Quality Improvement Fund and to the transportation trust fund.

Actually, state tax revenue continued to decline in the fiscal year ended June 30, but not by as much as had been forecast, McDonnell said. The decline was 0.6 percent, versus an estimate of a 2.3 percent decline.

McDonnell hailed the surplus as a product of prudent fiscal management, noting that the state in January was forecasting a $1.8 billion shortfall. He also said a $4.2 billion budget shortfall had been forecast for the two years ending June 30, 2012.

"We have reduced state spending in this new biennium to 2006 levels," he said.
State employees have gone without a pay raise since 2007.

McDonnell said there are still problems in the economy, particularly in the real estate sector, but that tax collections appeared to have begun turning around in April.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Virginia's New Governor Sworn In Today

written by: Julian Walker

Minutes after being sworn in Saturday as the state's 71st governor, Bob McDonnell assured Virginians that an economic revival lies ahead.

"I've listened to people tell me they fear that America may no longer be the land of opportunity it has always been, and that Virginia's history in playing a leading role in the life of our nation may be just that - history. They are wrong," McDonnell said, enunciating each word for emphasis.

The new governor's address blended allusions to the state's past as the "Cradle of Democracy" and the home of civil rights advances with a sobering but optimistic assessment of its prospects, while laying out a vision for the commonwealth's next chapter.

He promised better roads, more energy resources, an improved educational system, and perhaps most importantly, a climate that will foster economic growth.

"Where opportunity is absent, we must create it," McDonnell told an estimated crowd of 7,000. "Where opportunity is limited, we must expand it. Where opportunity is unequal, we must make it open to everyone."

It was a heady day for euphoric Republicans, who roared approval after many of the stanzas in McDonnell's speech.

Later, as the inaugural ceremony came to a close Saturday afternoon, McDonnell scooped first lady Maureen McDonnell into his arms and carried her across the threshold of the governor's mansion, where the family will live for the next four years.

For Republicans, that literal gesture was also a symbolic one that crystallized their optimism.

It signaled the end of eight years of Democratic rule and, they hope, a sign that McDonnell's November election is the start of a national resurgence for a sometimes fractious GOP.

While Republicans, including McDonnell, had much to celebrate Saturday, the unabashedly conservative new governor eschewed fiery partisan rhetoric in his inaugural speech.

Instead, he hewed to the economic growth theme that was a central component of his campaign pitch.

"The creation of new job opportunities for all our citizens is the obligation of our time, so all Virginians who seek a good job can find meaningful work and the dignity that comes with it," he said.

His initial steps in that direction were executive orders signed moments after he officially become governor.

The first establishes a job creation task force and installs as its leader Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who was sworn in alongside McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Saturday.

The second created a commission charged with finding ways to reduce government redundancy and downsize the state bureaucracy.

The most pressing task confronting McDonnell is steering the state out of a dismal economic downturn that has left the state with a $4.2 billion shortfall that must be plugged to balance the budget. The new governor wants the budget work to be completed within the 60-day General Assembly session and without new taxes.

Democratic lawmakers offered praise of McDonnell's tone Saturday. That may not be true of their reaction to the proposal he is to make in a speech Monday evening.

"His remarks here today were light and were not laden with policy," said House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong, D-Henry. "I am pleased that he led with economic development. My region of the state has been so hard hit. But all of Virginia is hurting."

One early flash point with the opposing party is the pending battle over McDonnell's pick for commerce and labor secretary, Robert Sledd.

Sledd's service on three corporate boards has raised conflict of interest concerns among some lawmakers.

Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, said Saturday that she has the votes to block Sledd's confirmation if he doesn't give up those board seats.

For the day, however, future skirmishes were a distant concern for McDonnell backers excited to see their man take office.

His victory in November, coupled with dominating wins by Bolling and Cuccinelli, consolidated Republican political power in Virginia and gives McDonnell a mandate to push his agenda.

"I think the campaign itself began to bring the party elements together," former U.S. Sen. John Warner, a Republican, said after the inauguration.

If McDonnell follows those principles, Warner said, "he'll be a good, strong governor."

McDonnell began the day with a prayer breakfast.

"As I embark on this journey I just want to say... I do pray for the wisdom of Solomon," he said. "Last year, I prayed for votes and money. This year it's wisdom and money," he continued to laughter.

One recognizable face at the prayer breakfast was religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.

The Virginia Beach televangelist drew rebukes last week when he said that the island nation of Haiti was cursed after it was struck by a massive earthquake.

Robertson didn't want to discuss the controversy Saturday, telling reporters who approached him "This is Bob's day. I'm talking about Bob McDonnell, OK?"

Less controversial local faith leaders participated in the afternoon inauguration: Rabbi Israel Zoberman of Congregation Beth Chaverim gave a scripture reading, and Bishop B. Courtney McBath of Calvary Revival Church delivered the benediction.