RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - On day one of the General Assembly (G.A.), there are smiles, and good feelings. New leaders are sworn in, and, if only for a moment, politics appear to be set aside. But there isn't single rookie or veteran on the floor who isn't keenly aware of the difficult days ahead.
"This is gonna force us to sit down, go back to the basics, take a long hard look at how we do business as a government," said Del. Bill Janis, (R) Henrico.
Virginia faces its most difficult budget crisis in 70 years. Lawmakers must cut $4 billion in spending, on top of $7 billion already trimmed since 2008.
"With a new capable leader on the 3rd floor, I'm confident that we will find the common ground necessary to create more hope, jobs, and opportunity for Virginians," said Del. William Howell, (R) Speaker of the House.
That "new leader" is Governor-Elect Bob McDonnell, who spent part of his day raising awareness for the Central Virginia Foodbank. He later said he's confident in what the G.A. is capable of doing.
"Government will have to adjust, just like families and businesses are having to do in tough economic times. There's sacrifice. There is a new way of looking at things," said McDonnell.
It's unclear so early on what cuts will remain, and what monies might be restored. There are 59 more days to make the decisions final.
"Let us each approach our tasks as true optimists, seeking opportunities to work for the common good. And to improve the quality of life for all Virginians we serve," said Howell.