Story by Chris Graham
Bill Bolling sounds like somebody who is thinking about how he would do things differently if he was governor.
“Under the best of circumstances, adopting a budget is difficult. It’s even more difficult when you have sluggish economic growth. But the governor did unnecessarily complicate the process by bringing us a budget in December that was fiscally unsound,” the lieutenant governor said in an interview for today’s “New Dominion Show.”
Bolling, a Republican, has been consistently critical of Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine’s 2008-2010 budget since Kaine offered it to state legislators for review and consideration late last year. Among his points was that it was based on what he has termed “overly optimistic revenue projections” given the deepening economic slowdown and the proposals to balance new spending initiatives like the governor’s pre-K expansion project with cuts in transportation and an infusion of cash from the Rainy Day Fund.
On the whole, Bolling said he felt good about the budget that legislators passed and sent on to the governor for his review and ultimate approval.
“There are things that I like and things I don’t like, but that’s what happens when you have divided government,” Bolling said. “You have Democrats controlling the governor’s mansion and the Senate, and Republicans controlling the House. And to get anything done, you’ve got to have some tradeoffs and some compromises, and that doesn’t produce a perfect result.
“It’s a budget of plusses and minuses, and it probably does reflect that we have a divided government, and to get a sufficient number of votes to get anything passed, you have to swallow a few toads along the way,” Bolling said.
I hinted above that Bolling sounded like somebody thinking about what he would do differently if he was governor. That seems to be the question right now in the Bolling camp – namely, is he going to throw his hat into the 2009 gubernatorial ring, as many expect he will do?
“What I’ve been trying hard to do is to get people to keep their focus on 2008. Particularly within the Republican Party. This is a pretty challenging time for our party. And I just think that if we’re going to win in ’08, we can’t be distracted by discussions of ’09. We’ve got to stay focused on the presidential race and the Senate race and the congressional races,” Bolling said.
“I will admit, it is becoming difficult to do that. Because we’re getting all kinds of – everywhere I go, it seems that the only question that’s on everybody’s mind is, Are you going to run for governor in 2009? So despite my best efforts to get everybody to keep their focus on 2008, people still want to talk about 2009. And that may cause us to make some decisions quicker than we had really planned on making them,” Bolling said.