Kilgore Talks About Virginia Job Market; B1
By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)
FRONT ROYAL — The commonwealth’s economy is booming. Just who should get the credit is quickly becoming an issue in the gubernatorial campaign.
Virginia’s economy added more than 50,000 jobs from June 2004 to June 2005, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
That’s proof that the $1.6 billion tax hike deal that concluded last year’s session of the General Assembly has helped, not hurt, the economy, according to two members of the Democratic ticket.
“Today’s job growth numbers remind us how out of touch the Republican statewide ticket’s chicken-little act has become,” Democratic lieutenant governor hopeful Leslie Byrne said in an e-mail to reporters this week.
“For years they’ve been trying to tell Virginians that fiscal responsibility and common sense investments in education and transportation would drive jobs away,” she said. “Our record-setting job growth proves once again what Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and I have been saying all along: Businesses want an educated workforce, a functional transportation network and an im-proved quality of life.”
The campaign of Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democratic hopeful for governor, issued a similar statement. The Warner-Kaine administration has presided over the addition of some 241,000 new jobs, campaign officials said in a press release.
Republican gubernatorial contender Jerry Kilgore didn’t pull any punches when asked Wednesday about the Democratic ticket’s claims.
“[Kaine has] had nothing to do with job creation in Virginia. He’s been lieutenant governor. His only duty is to vote in case of a tie in the state Senate,” said Kilgore, who was campaigning in Front Royal.
The state is doing well, but it would have been doing better without the 2004 tax plan.
“While the unemployment numbers are low, most people are having to commute to other areas to find work,” he said. A Kilgore administration would work with local economic developers to “bring to the table tax credits” that would entice business to move closer to workers.
“We need to reach for the stars and get better paying jobs,” he said.
Kilgore also took the opportunity to defend the cost of his campaign’s initiatives. Independent gubernatorial candidate H. Russell Potts Jr., a Republican state senator from Winchester, has been highly critical of Kilgore’s spending plans.
The state budget is more than capable of paying for the GOP candidate’s spending plans for things like education and transportation, Kilgore said.
“Mine’s a plan that, if we set budget priorities, we can easily accomplish what I’m setting out to accomplish,” he said. “We’re going to get our budget house in order. We’re going to get our forecasts in order.”
Claims that Kaine and the rest of the Democratic ticket are fiscally responsible are laughable, Kilgore said.
“[The cost of] my opponent’s plan is going out the roof. We’re at $4 billion and still counting at the number of promises that he’s making,” he said. “I will do it all without raising taxes. [Kaine] won’t.”
Election Day is Nov. 8.