- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2006

RICHMOND — House Speaker William J. Howell called yesterday for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, to stop radio ads and automated telephone calls that blame House Republicans for the state budget deadlock and fail to mention his plan for a “$1 billion tax increase.”

“The governor of Virginia has a responsibility to the citizens of the Commonwealth to tell it straight,” Mr. Howell said.

Lawmakers were split when the General Assembly adjourned March 11 over the House’s $2 billion, four-year transportation proposal and plans by Mr. Kaine and the Senate that call for about $1 billion a year in new taxes and fees for transportation improvements. The House and Senate will reconvene Monday for a special session, but a budget agreement is not expected.

The disagreement led this week to the radio spots and so-called “robo calls” in which Mr. Kaine says the House Republican budget proposal does not solve the transportation problems and cuts important state services.

“Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate have come together with me to offer real plans to get Virginia moving again,” Mr. Kaine says in the radio ads, which are funded by Mr. Kaine’s political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward. “House Republicans have a different idea. Their plan … actually cuts priorities like teacher pay, early childhood education and gang prevention. The House plan just doesn’t solve the problem.”

Mr. Howell, a Republican, said Mr. Kaine’s providing false information with his voice is “unconscionable.”

Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall said the governor will continue to urge Virginians to contact their delegates to ask them to become a “constructive part of this conversation.”

“What is disingenuous is what the House leadership proposes — to scoop up every spare dime they can find in the general fund, then whip out the credit card for the rest and claim it is a long-term transportation solution,” he said. “Governor Kaine has been crisscrossing the state since January 20, speaking in some 20 town hall meeting and staying until the last question is answered. And if the speaker would like to tag along on one to hear what Virginians are saying, he is welcome.”

Mr. Howell said the House proposal increases transportation spending to $10 billion over the next two years, includes a 3 percent pay raise for public school teachers and matches the spending increases the Senate proposed for public education funding, public safety, health care and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.

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