McDonnell lays out ambitious agenda in speech to General Assembly

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - He has only been on the job for a little more than two days, but already Bob McDonnell is calling for major changes in state government. He formally outlined his ambitious agenda at his first address to a joint session of the legislature.

Some of these ideas, McDonnell has been touting for more than a year.

"I will present plans to privatize our ABC operations in a fiscally prudent manner," the new Governor said.

Ideas like privatizing the state's liquor stores, drilling off shore and encouraging film production in Virginia, are not new. But now they are official policy.

"I ask you to increase funding for the motion picture opportunity fund by $2 million," said McDonnell.

Putting teeth behind his promises, McDonnell outlined specifically how he plans to reach his lofty goals. Goals like re-opening rest stops across Virginia. He brought the legislature to their feet when he announced: "We'll have those rest stops open within 87 days!"

But opening rest-stops is only one major change the republican is proposing on Virginia highways.

"We should raise the speed limit in rural parts of the state to 70 mph on major interstates," he said.

That is a change that will put the commonwealth alongside 32 other states. But despite, new spending proposals in this speech alone in excess of $10 million, one thing McDonnell is not increasing is taxes.

"Therefore, if you pass a bill in this recession that raises taxes on the hardworking families of Virginia," said the Republican. "I will veto it!"

Meaning that over the next several weeks, lawmakers and this new governor will have plenty to haggle over as they look to fill a budget that is still $4 billion in the hole.

One thing Bob McDonnell did not talk much about - transportation. It is a problem that he said during the campaign will require a $1 billion solution. It was something he did not offer any clear answers to in this speech.

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