The Kaine Hole Keeps Getting Deeper

Governor-elect Bob McDonnell sat down today with Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and outgoing Governor Tim Kaine (oh, how sweet it is!) to hear the budget projections for the coming year. And the news is not good. From the AP:

Gov. Timothy Kaine on Monday met with his Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates to hear state fiscal projections, the final such meeting of his four-year term. Kaine then will likely use the most conservative revenue figures — updated at the end of the month to include November tax receipts — as the foundation of his proposed biennial budget, which he will present to the General Assembly’s money committees Dec. 18.

After the meeting, Kaine and other legislators didn’t disclose figures but said the estimates the council heard Monday largely squared with information presented last week to General Assembly budget writers. Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker projected that Virginia needs to cut at least $250 million more from its budget, and face an anticipated shortfall of nearly $3 billion for the next two years.

His Excellency Kaine’s first path to look to? Why, more tax hikes, of course.

Kaine said Monday he wouldn’t rule out proposing tax increases to help preserve core services, Virginia’s AAA bond rating and its competitiveness with other states — but the General Assembly would ultimately decide.

DJ notes that maybe somebody missed the memo delivered to Democrats on November 3rd:

After all, it’s not as if the last fellow to call for a tax increase went down to the greatest landslide defeat in almost fifty years . . .

The always practical Norm lays out the challenges facing those who were selected on November 3rd to lead our great Commonwealth:

This will be a test of several things…

1. Bob McDonnell’s “read my lips” pledge not to increase taxes;

2. The General Assembly’s appetite for higher taxes, considering they have cut (to and through the bone) every hint of unnecessary spending;

3. The Republican House’s newly-elected members, many of whom have never faced a withering media drumbeat for greater taxes.

One longtime legislative hand is already sensing that this mess may lead to extra innings, particularly thanks to the coming health care bills out of DC. From NBC29:

At least one lawmaker says he might have a solution. 19th District Independent Delegate Lacey Putney, the committee’s chairman, suggested “The possibility of coming into session, maybe recessing, let the members go back, except the money committees working on the budget, in order to give us time to see what they’re going to do in Washington.”

Putney said discussions about that plan were ongoing.

A delay could give budget writers a chance to understand the financial obligations required by federal health care bills. But it would also drag out the legislative session, a scenario that could cause problems of its own.

Thank heavens that we elected a man of principle to the Governor’s Mansion. Having worked for the man, I have no doubt that McDonnell will live up to his promises. Indeed, he was never part of the “country club”/good government set that dominated the Caucuses for too long. Still, its going to be a bumpy ride, and we the people need to keep up the pressure on our legislators in Richmond.

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