- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Nearly two weeks ago, Republicans in the House of Delegates stripped $22 million that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine had amended into the budget.

Yesterday, Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, went on a statewide aerial tour to illustrate what the cuts will mean for projects as diverse as sewage overflow systems and child day care.

At a YMCA youth day care center in Charlottesville, Mr. Kaine spoke with working, middle-class parents and low-income families about the consequences of $244,000 the center lost in the House cuts.

Alexis Stephens, who works at a real estate firm and volunteers at the center, was dropping her child off for the day and implored Mr. Kaine to find discretionary funding for it.

“Early childhood development is critical. The ‘Y’ is what we have to provide these children with an opportunity to get a head start, an opportunity to learn,” Miss Stephens said.

The state funding the center lost was what House Republican leaders branded as pork or nonessential.

It was part of nearly $30 million in unspent state money Mr. Kaine found in last year’s budget through savings and unexpected lottery profits.

In a rancorous and chaotic one-day session June 28, all but $6 million in basic aid to public primary and secondary schools was lumped together and, without debate, eliminated from the budget in a party-line vote over loud, angry protests from Democrats.

In Lynchburg, Mr. Kaine addressed city leaders during a lunch at the downtown Academy of Fine Arts, where he questioned the logic of eliminating $3.75 million for a major sewage system overhaul while the state is pouring hundreds of millions into a federally ordered cleanup of Chesapeake Bay.

Local officials told Mr. Kaine the project is 80 percent complete, but that the most-expensive portion still remains because the construction will be done in the most developed part of the city: downtown.

Lynchburg’s sewer system — parts of it 100 years old — discharges raw sewage into the James River during times of heavy rainfall because the storm drainage and sanitary systems are not properly separated. The city is under federal orders to fix the problem.

Mr. Kaine also planned a stop along the Shenandoah River near Winchester, where funding to find the source of fish-killing contamination was eliminated.

A message left with House Republican Leader H. Morgan Griffith of Salem was not returned.

“This was the pork the House of Delegates said they were getting rid of,” said state Sen. Robert Creigh Deeds, Bath Democrat, as he watched children frolic at the preschool day care.

The children of working poor attend on scholarships underwritten by the state money and by charitable donations.

“What they did was garbage, unthinking garbage. This isn’t a Democrat or Republican program. This is the kind of program that builds communities,” Mr. Deeds said.

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