Q. What will be your first two or three agenda items after you become governor next month?
A. Jobs, jobs, jobs. That's what I campaigned on; that's what I'm going to govern on. We've got tough economic times and economic development will dominate the first (General Assembly session) for me. I've got to find as many ways as possible to promote small businesses, keep our tax and regulatory climate good and strong, recruit business to Virginia and put other economic development and incentives in place so we can be the most competitive state in the country. MSNBC and Forbes have ranked us as the most business friendly state in America three years in a row. I want to make sure we keep it that way. We've got a 6.7 percent unemployment rate. That's below the national average but it's still the top issue I campaigned on and it's the top issue people are concerned about.
Q. How do you plan to do this? The standard Republican approach has been to cut taxes and reduce spending. What kind of cooperation do you anticipate from the legislature?
A. I've met with the leaders of both parties in both houses. Everybody understands this fiscal plight we're in. We will have to grow our way out of it with good economic policies. I think we're going to get a lot of cooperation from both parties. What they've told me is that we have to increase tax revenues for economic development. There are some who want to raise taxes, but they know I'm not going to do that. I'm looking at restructuring parts of government, cutting spending and making our economic development apparatus work better. I've outlined several different tax credits; retooling the Governors Opportunity Fund, which gives the governor the ability to offer incentives to get businesses to come to Virginia. And I want to go to foreign countries to extend the economic machine. We have no offices in India, China and other places where there should be good opportunities to exploit Virginia's goods and services and I want to be present there.
Q. There's been a lot of commentary in the media about how you and Governor-elect Christie of New Jersey won. The line has been that you won because you emphasized bread-and-butter issues: taxes, roads, traffic -- and de-emphasized social issues. Will we see those priorities with you as governor and do you still care about the social issues? Are they still winning issues for Republicans and conservatives?
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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