- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2009

RICHMOND | Republican Gov.-elect Robert F. McDonnell reiterated his promise Tuesday not to raise taxes despite outgoing Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine saying the move might be necessary to help balance the state budget.

Mr. McDonnell spoke with reporters in the Capitol at a daylong budget forum sponsored by the Associated Press, just hours after a senior Republican budget writer in the House of Delegates said that any effort to roll back tax cuts or raise taxes would get nowhere.

“The biggest thing [Mr. Kaine] could do for us is not put a tax increase in the budget,” said Delegate M. Kirkland Cox, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee.

But Sen. Janet D. Howell, Fairfax Democrat and a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, said the situation is so dire that the outgoing governor should include whatever measures he thinks would balance the budget and protect the states AAA bond rating.

“I think we’re going to really be in a situation where things are so dire we’re going to have to cooperate. We’re going to have a choice: Are we going to cooperate or are we going to fight?” Ms. Howell said.

A fight might be unavoidable. Mr. McDonnell said he has spoken with Mr. Kaine and requested that the outgoing governor not include any tax cut rollbacks such as reinstituting the car tax, as some have suggested, but instead balance the budget through spending cuts.

“Ive asked him and I think others have as well to balance the budget through a full range of spending cuts whatever the number he believes is the right number for the shortfall,” Mr. McDonnell said. “It was my request to him and I would hope he would consider it, that he would make those cuts.”

Mr. Kaine is set to introduce his biennial budget on Dec. 18. Declining revenues have left the budget at least $3.5 billion short, despite a series of cuts. Mr. McDonnell said that once he receives Mr. Kaine’s budget proposal he will spend five weeks drafting amendments and working with the General Assembly to create a budget he can sign.

After closing about $7 billion in revenue shortfalls since 2007, Mr. Kaines new budget must include additional budget cuts or increase the states revenues to achieve the mandated balanced budget. Mr. Kaine has said he seeks to do so without hurting the states bond rating or diminishing necessary services.

“It has been a tough time to be governor,” Mr. Kaine said.

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