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 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.
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.
Today (11/24), Governor Terry McAuliffe will meet with top economic advisors who will try to forecast how much money Virginia can expect to take in in 2015 and give him guidance on how much he’ll have to cut to meet the expected shortfall.
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.