January 10, 2007
For the second time as Governor, Tim Kaine delivered the State of the Commonwealth address. The speech kicked off the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown festivities.
The Governor's 40 minute address touched on several topics from cutting taxes to funding the state's public education system. But as has been status quo in Richmond the past two years, transportation talks reigned supreme.
Governor Tim Kaine took to the Jamestown stage tonight to deliver his second State of the Commonwealth address. After a short beginning touting his accomplishments last year, Kaine dove into the biggest problem at hand, transportation.
"I urge you to find a long-term, sustainable revenues for transportation with the best interests of the Commonwealth in mind," said Democratic Governor Tim Kaine.
The Governor's proposed $850 million transportation plan, which includes a higher sales tax for new car purchases, has been met with mixed reaction by Virginia legislators. But even with the Governor's biggest opponents say the time to fix the problems is now.
"It gives us a chance to focus on the things that matter. Virginia is a great place. We face some challenges today but we are capable of overcoming those challenges," said Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling.
"I'm ever optimistic that even in an election year, that people can come together and not let electoral politics for accomplishing good for the people of the Commonwealth," said 5th District Senator Creigh Deeds.
Besides transportation, the Governor is proposing a tax cut for 300,000 of the lowest paid Virginians. He also wants to fund quality pre-Kindergarten education while raising teacher salaries by three percent statewide. Finally, the Governor said he wants to improve Virginia's health care system, starting with the youngest of the population.
"We must take special steps to instill healthy habits in young Virginians. Too many Virginians of all ages are overweight and our obesity rate is soaring," Governor Kaine said.
But in the end, the Governor said, these measures will only be accomplished with cooperation from all.
"It is our responsibility to work together to make sure that we are building a smarter, more efficient government that serves the people of the Commonwealth," Kaine said.
Sources in the Governor's office say that legislators might be close to a transportation compromise. That of course remains to be seen. Lawmakers head back to Richmond tomorrow to get back to work. The task at hand, sift through 3,100 bills and a state budget in 45 days.
The session is slated to end February 24.
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