Read the Bills Act Coalition

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Bolling Report

The Bolling Report

January 31, 2009

In last week’s edition of The Bolling Report, I discussed my 2009 Legislative Agenda, which begins discussing some of the New Ideas For A Better Virginia that emerged from my 100 Ideas For The Future Of Virginia initiative.

My 2009 Legislative Agenda focuses on two things: finding realistic, workable solutions to some of the most important challenges facing Virginia; and beginning the process of reforming state government to make it work for the people of Virginia.

The major emphasis of my 2009 Legislative Agenda is looking for responsible, targeted proposals that will help get Virginia’s economy moving again and better position the Commonwealth to take advantage of future economic growth once the national economy starts growing.

For example, my 2009 Legislative Agenda includes proposals that would increase the amount of money we put into the Governor’s Economic Opportunity Fund. This fund is used to provide incentives to new businesses that want to locate in Virginia.

Our Economic Opportunity Fund currently receives $15M per biennium. This is far less than those of the state’s we compete with for new business, industry and jobs. We have proposed increasing the Fund to $25M per biennium, which would better position Virginia to compete with other states in the southeastern United States.

I have also proposed restoring the budget cuts that Governor Kaine made to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Tourism Council. These agencies are on the front line of our effort to recruit new businesses and attract tourists to Virginia. This is a time when we should be investing in these agencies, not reducing their budgets.

We have also proposed an aggressive series of recommendations that would position Virginia to be the nation’s leader in developing traditional and alternative sources of energy.

By moving forward with the exploration and development of Virginia’s offshore energy resources we can help the nation achieve a greater level of energy independence and generate hundreds of millions of dollars of royalties every year, money that can be used to help build a transportation system for the 21st century.

We have also introduced comprehensive legislation that would position Virginia to be a leader in the development of wind energy. Together with Governor Kaine’s proposals to advance the development of solar energy in Virginia, this could make the Commonwealth the nation’s leader in advancing renewable sources of energy

We have proposed a tax credit for wireless and broadband equipment purchased by telecommunications providers for use in rural areas of the Commonwealth. This tax credit will make it more financially feasible for these companies to bring broadband to rural Virginia, where it is desperately needed to spur economic development.

And last but by no means least, we have proposed a Constitutional Amendment that would give constitutional protection to Virginia’s right to work law, which is the cornerstone of our economic development efforts. Unfortunately, the right to work is under assault at both the state and federal level.

In Washington, congressional Democrats are working to undermine the right to work by passing a horrendous piece of legislation called “card check.” This legislation would eliminate the right of workers to vote in a secret ballot before they are forced to join unions.

In Virginia, all three Democrat candidates for Governor recently walked a picket line in Northern Virginia supporting a union strike against one of Northern Virginia’s largest hotels. They were also joined by Jody Wagner, a candidate for Lieutenant Governor. This is the first time in memory that a major party candidate for statewide office has walked a union picket line in support of a strike against a Virginia business.

Fortunately, I am not alone in my effort to propose the right kind of economic development solutions in Virginia. Earlier this week, Speaker Bill Howell and Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates released their Economic Recovery And Prosperity Agenda.

In introducing the House GOP economic recovery plan, Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-Henrico) said, “House Republicans understand the financial challenges Virginia families and businesses are facing during these distressing economic times. The initiatives we are outlining today cut straight to the issue of how state government can serve a sensible role in promoting sorely needed economic development.”

The economic recovery proposals advanced by House Republicans include:

Expediting the completion of five significant higher education projects worth over $230M in construction costs. These five projects at the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, Virginia Tech, James Madison University and Christopher Newport University were included in a $2.6B bond package approved by the General Assembly last year, but their completion will be advanced pursuant to amendments that will be included in House GOP budget recommendations.

Extending for an additional ten years the major business facility tax credit that was created by former Governor George Allen. This tax credit was scheduled to expire in 2010. In addition to extending this tax credit, House Republicans will also work to allow businesses to receive the benefits of the tax credit over a two year period, as opposed to the current three year requirement.

Expanding the use of existing innovative financing mechanisms for “mega” economic development projects to site and other related improvements. By permitting these innovative financing options to be used for site and other improvements it is estimated that we will spur an economic investment of at least $250M in the Commonwealth and create an additional 400 full time jobs.

These are just some of the recommendations included in the House GOP Economic Recovery And Prosperity Agenda. For additional information on the House GOP economic recovery plan please click here.

My economic growth proposals, as well as those advanced by House Republicans, show how government can properly help get our economy moving again and better position Virginia to take advantage of economic growth once the national economy starts growing.

Unfortunately, at the federal level President Obama and congressional Democrats are pursuing a very different agenda. Under the guise of economic stimulus they have proposed massive government spending of $850B, most of which would not result in any real economic stimulus.

While there are some good recommendations in the President’s plan, the vast majority of his spending proposal is directing toward the largest expansion of social programs in America in 40 years. That will not result in economic growth. It will only create more dependence on government and a greater deficit for our grandchildren.

This week we were advised that the Obama spending plan could result in an additional $4B in state funding for Virginia. Already, Democrats in the Senate and House of Delegates are trying to figure out how they can incorporate this money into the state budget and avoid making the spending cuts that Governor Kaine has recommended.

In next week’s edition of The Bolling Report, I will discuss the federal economic spending plan in greater detail, with an emphasis on what it means for Virginia and why we should not rely on this money to balance our state budget.

Lieutenant Governor William T. "Bill" Bolling |
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