- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Jerry W. Kilgore said yesterday that he would use state troopers to enforce laws against illegal aliens in Arlington County or any other locality that fails to do so, if he is elected governor.

“I’ll have the state police in there if there’s a big problem in Arlington,” the Republican gubernatorial nominee said during a meeting yesterday with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

Mr. Kilgore also said he would veto any tax increase passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

“They know I’ll veto that bill,” he said. “That’s why it won’t come if I’m elected governor. There won’t be a tax-increase bill that makes it through either house.”

During the 75-minute meeting, Mr. Kilgore touched on several topics, including national politics and the death penalty. He also noted that first lady Laura Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will hold fundraisers for him next week.

But he hammered home his opposition to spending taxpayer dollars on illegal aliens.

Mr. Kilgore also said he would aim to sanction businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens by seeking legislation or issuing an executive order that would deny state contracts to such companies.

“Right is right,” the former state attorney general said. “If businesses need more workers, then go to Congress and make sure people come here legally. We need to know from a public-safety standpoint who is here and why they are here and when they’re supposed to leave.”

Illegal immigration is tied to the increase in the number of gangs in Virginia, which is the biggest public-safety challenge facing the state, Mr. Kilgore said.

He said he would seek legislation and an agreement with the U.S. Homeland Security Department that would allow state troopers to detain and deport illegal aliens.

“MS-13, the most violent of all gangs, is dominating this area,” he said. “I’ll be in here making sure that we’re enforcing our anti-gang laws and illegal-immigration laws, and I think we’ll have a safer community because of that.”

Arlington County officials have said they will not routinely check the immigration status of people they arrest, even though a law enacted last year allows Virginia authorities to detain known illegal aliens who are suspected of a crime and had been convicted of felonies and deported.

In addition, local officials recently approved a shelter in Herndon for day laborers, similar to one operating in Shirlington.

“A local government can’t decide to violate the law. That’s what they’re doing,” Mr. Kilgore said, adding that he would seek legislation to bar shelters from aiding illegal aliens.

“I just think we’re going down the wrong course to acquiesce to illegal immigration and just assume that it’s got to happen and it’s going to happen,” he said.

Mr. Kilgore met with The Times the day after his final debate with Democratic candidate Timothy M. Kaine, the lieutenant governor. Both are seeking to succeed Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat who cannot pursue two consecutive terms under state law.

Independent candidate H. Russell Potts Jr., who has failed to reach double digits in polls, was not allowed to participate in the debate.

Mr. Kilgore said yesterday that he would not repeal the $1.38 billion tax increase passed by the legislature last year, but would seek to eliminate estate and car taxes.

Phil Rodokanakis, president of the antitax Virginia Club for Growth, yesterday criticized Mr. Kilgore for opposing the tax increase but not promising to repeal it.

“By trying to play both sides of the issue, Kilgore has been telling fiscal conservatives that he’s against taxes, while winking at the tax-and-spend interests in our commonwealth, implying that he’s also on their side,” Mr. Rodokanakis said.

The tax increase was narrowly approved after about 20 Republicans bucked the party’s anti-tax wing and joined with Democrats after a months-long budget standoff.

Senate leaders, who had pushed for an even larger increase, are considering seeking higher taxes next year for transportation and commitments such as education and health care.

In addition to issuing a tax-veto pledge, Mr. Kilgore said he wants any tax-increase proposals to be put before voters in a referendum.

Mr. Kaine supported the tax package, which also cut taxes, and has said a referendum on taxes is a bad call.

“I don’t take a no-tax pledge, and I don’t take a tax-by-referendum pledge, like my opponent does,” he said in the Sunday debate. “The key is balance. And when Virginia needs to invest … balance is what you need in a governor, not a person who will take meaningless and silly pledges.”

Mr. Kilgore said his cordial relationship with lawmakers will secure passage of several tax cuts, including the repeal of the estate tax levied posthumously on wealthy people and tax credits for school supplies and tutoring.

He also said he would complete the phasing out of the car tax, despite key senators who oppose the idea. “The governor has the ability to send down the budget, and I’ll send down an amendment that’s an up-or-down vote.”

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