I've seen these challenges firsthand. Four times each year, I take my entire cabinet on the road where we talk to citizens and learn. We call these visits "Cabinet Community Days." In December, people I talked to were worried about finding another job. Worried about how they'd provide Christmas for their children. Worried about how they'd pay their bills. But they were resolved. They were hopeful. And despite whatever worries they had, they were helping each other.
Now, more than ever before, it's time for all hands to be applied to the task of righting the national economy. President-elect Obama and the Congress are discussing a federal stimulus package to do just that--and I am moving forward on capital projects and business incentives designed to help create jobs
However, the state's budget for incarceration has dramatically outpaced other spending items over the past decade. While we must not make changes that would compromise public safety, we have a responsibility to examine the costs and benefits of such dramatic growth.
Current law allows the director of the Department of Corrections to release inmates up 30 days before the end of their term. I have proposed a change that would allow the director the discretion to release inmates convicted of non-violent crimes up to 90 days early, if warranted by good behavior.
This small change will result in significant budget savings without compromising public safety. It has been endorsed by Virginia's sheriffs and police chiefs because it will help us deal with persistent jail overcrowding problems.
However, education is the single largest expenditure in the state budget and we will not be able to continue to leave education untouched in 2010.
I decided that nothing in our schools was as important to the students as their teachers and principals, and so I have made a proposal that protects our core priority--the classroom. My proposal is to reduce funding for administrative and support personnel in schools and central offices by applying a funding cap for these positions. For years we've applied a cap to determine the number of teachers and principals we fund--we should do the same for support staff.
I proposed a smaller cut to higher education in the 2009 academic year than to other agencies, and asked our colleges and universities not to make any mid-year increases to tuition.
In 2010, the cuts are deeper, but my budget proposes a lesser cut for community colleges--the most affordable point of entry into Virginia's higher education system. And, I propose $26 million in additional support for need-based financial aid so that middle and lower-income students will not find the doors of educational opportunity shut to them.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, at my direction, has just completed an aggressive marketing plan to promote Virginia's business case for new investments in renewable energy production and energy efficiency projects. And I have created an Interagency Task Force for Energy Project Recruitment that will work with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to build Virginia's compelling case for renewable energy-related businesses.
Every institution in Virginia is working on innovative new energy projects--transportation fuel cells at Virginia Tech, energy-efficient buildings at UVA, algae-based biodiesel at ODU, and new energy crops at Virginia State University.
I have proposed to implement the Climate Change Commission's top recommendation--the reduction of electricity consumption by 19% of current levels by 2025, with appropriate adjustments for population growth.
Orbital, the Virginia-based space company, was awarded a $1.9 billion contract by NASA to launch rockets and satellites into space from Wallops Island, making Virginia one of the centers of the nation's new and innovative space industry.
However, I do propose one targeted tax increase. To avoid even deeper cuts that would mean denying health care services to some of our poor, elderly, and disabled, I propose a 30 cent per pack increase in our cigarette tax. This will bring Virginia's tobacco tax up to about half the national average. Virginia's current cigarette excise tax covers less than half the $400 million in Medicaid costs that smoking creates. I believe that the taxes on smoking should more closely match the budget costs that taxpayers incur because of smoking. Under my proposal, fewer of Virginians' tax dollars will be diverted to cover the costs of smoking.
Our transportation agencies are reducing their administrative overhead to preserve scarce dollars for maintenance and construction. To balance its budget, VDOT will reduce central office staff and streamline operations around the state. Over the next two years, VDOT will reduce agency employment by about 1,000 employees, through retirements, attrition, and other restructuring.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board has rewritten the six year construction plan to reflect the reduced financial projections, and the results are startling. Without a long-term commitment from the legislature to support transportation funding, and with a slump in existing revenue sources, dozens of road and bridge projects have been taken out of the plan.
The above quotations are from 2009 Governor's State of the State speeches.
Click here for other excerpts from 2009 Governor's State of the State speeches.
Click here for other excerpts by Tim Kaine.
Click here for other excerpts by other Governors.
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