Virginia governor meets with state revenue panel

AP News
Posted: Nov 23, 2009 2:45 PM

Virginia's fiscal picture remained dim, as a panel of state legislators and business leaders got another look at prospects for the state's upcoming budget.

Gov. Timothy Kaine on Monday met with his Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates to hear state fiscal projections, the final such meeting of his four-year term. Kaine then will likely use the most conservative revenue figures _ updated at the end of the month to include November tax receipts _ as the foundation of his proposed biennial budget, which he will present to the General Assembly's money committees Dec. 18.

After the meeting, Kaine and other legislators didn't disclose figures but said the estimates the council heard Monday largely squared with information presented last week to General Assembly budget writers. Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker projected that Virginia needs to cut at least $250 million more from its budget, and face an anticipated shortfall of nearly $3 billion for the next two years.

Kaine said Monday he wouldn't rule out proposing tax increases to help preserve core services, Virginia's AAA bond rating and its competitiveness with other states _ but the General Assembly would ultimately decide.

The round of cuts he proposed in September, including large funding reductions to public higher education, will carry over to the 2011-12 fiscal year, Kaine said.

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov.-elect Bill Bolling also attended the meeting. The Republican said afterward that he and Kaine planned to meet Monday to discuss the state's financial picture, and he reiterated that he would rule out raising taxes.

Economic conditions have forced more than $5.5 billion in state budget reductions in a little over a year. A shortfall of at least $1 billion already confronts the new two-year budget that McDonnell and legislators must assemble during the upcoming General Assembly session.