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Longtime Republican Senator Watkins Won’t Seek Re-election

Longtime Republican State Senator John Watkins of Powhatan is retiring after 34 years in the General Assembly, announcing he will not seek re-election in 2015. Watkins is one of a shrinking number of moderate Republicans in the Senate amid a growing group of younger more conservative members. He helped forge compromises to pass the first major transportation investment in two decades and to fully fund the Virginia retirement system. Senator Watkins says staying in the middle ground has gotten harder in recent years.

Governor Warns Of “Huge Headwinds” In State Budget

Governor McAuliffe says Virginia’s economy is in a “very perilous situation” with potential federal defense cuts looming. The Governor is working on his spending plan due next month highlighted by 322 million in red ink. And he says he’s open to eliminating tax relief programs to balance the budget, including rolling back a program that partially offsets Virginia’s car tax.

McAuliffe Says Budget in “Perilous” Situation

Governor Terry McAuliffe and the General Assembly likely will have to make further cuts to the state budget to offset declining tax collections. Where those cuts will be made remains to be seen.

Governor McAuliffe and the leaders of the House and Senate money committees met with the state’s top economic advisors yesterday (11/24). McAuliffe says automatic cuts brought on by sequestration -- if Congress does not come together to repeal them -- will further damage Virginia’s economy.

Jim Webb Launches Presidential Exploratory Committee

Former US Senator Jim Webb has launched an exploratory committee to consider a 2016 presidential bid. The Virginia Democrat is the first potential candidate of either party to launch what could become a challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s White House ambitions.

His 14-minute address is posted on Youtube and on his new website at webb2016.com.

McAuliffe Establishes New Hunger Task Force

Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order yesterday (11/20) to establish the Commonwealth Council on Bridging the Nutritional Divide which aims to end hunger in the state. Governor McAuliffe says Virginia leaves 20 million dollars in federal money on the table each year for school breakfast, lunch and summer feeding programs because many schools don’t take the time to apply.

Localities Will Have To Give Back To State To Close Budget Gap

The City of Richmond will have to return almost $1.5 million in state aid due to declining revenues. The money will come from core programs like police, jail operations and help for troubled children and adolescents. The reason is a $2.4 billion gap in the state’s two-year budget and an agreement hammered out two months ago by the Governor and the General Assembly.

Virginia cities are hurt the most, but it will cost Henrico County about a million and Chesterfield County almost $800,000.  Education has been spared for now.

Kaine and Warner on Opposite Ends of Pipeline Debate

Virginia’s two U.S. Senators, both Democrats, were divided yesterday on their support for building the Keystone XL Pipeline. Senator Tim Kaine opposed the authorization of the Keystone Pipeline. He says rising sea levels have a direct affect on Virginians specifically in Hampton Roads, by flooding roads, damaging homes and wrecking economic havoc on families and businesses.

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