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Bolling camp corrects record on Opportunity Fund

“During her trip to the Valley and as you reported during her stop in Waynesboro, Wagner accused the LG of only recently supporting the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. However, Jody Wagner is dead wrong.”
That was the message to me from Randy Marcus, the chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, pulling double duty in the political realm in an e-mail to me over the weekend raising issue with the contentions of Democratic Party lieutenant-governor nominee Jody Wagner that Bolling is a Johnny Come Lately on the need for increased funding for the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.

“The LG’s long-time support for expanding the Governor’s Opportunity Fund is very clear,” Marcus said in his e-mail, and included links to Bolling’s legislative agendas for 2007 and 2009 in which he advocated for funding increases for the Governor’s Opportunity Fund and a letter that Bolling sent to Gov. Tim Kaine in November 2006 pushing for the same.

“Based on my discussions with these local leaders, it is apparent that the Governor’s Development Opportunity Fund (the Fund) is critical to the success of our economic-development efforts in rural Virginia,” Bolling wrote in that November 2006 letter. “However, in researching this issue I was struck by the limited amount of money the Commonwealth places in the Fund each year, and the restrictive limits that are placed on the Funds use.

“As you know, the Commonwealth currently invests $15M a year in the Fund. I am writing to encourage you to propose a significant increase in this amount in your budget for the 2007 fiscal year. I would like to see us be very aggressive in increasing the dollars dedicated to this Fund,” Bolling wrote in that letter.

Bolling’s 2007 legislative agenda, released three months later, in January 2007, called for a $5 million funding increase in that year’s budget. His ’09 legislative agenda called for a $10 million budget increase.

The Fund is currently set at $15 million for the 2008-2010 biennium, an obviously paltry sum that pales in comparison to similar economic-development funds in place in neighboring states.

Wagner, whose economic plan calls for a more substantial increase in the Fund, doubling the current funding stream as a starting point, painted a different picture of Bolling’s efforts on the Opportunity Fund in her visit to Waynesboro last week.

“It’s interesting that last week Bill Bolling was traveling around the state, and he was talking about the fact that the Governor’s Opportunity Fund has to be greater. Well, he’s been part of the crowd that’s been cutting the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. And cutting the Virginia Economic Development (Partnership)’s funding. It’s interesting that Bill Bolling has been lieutenant governor for almost four years, and it took up until three months before the election for him to take notice of the fact that we had a shortage in the Governor’s Opportunity Fund,” Wagner said.

It would be accurate for Wagner to suggest that Bolling isn’t committed to the same level of increase in funding as she is. It is not accurate for her to say that he has only recently come to realize that there is a need in the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.


– Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
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