Governor warns of "tough budget cycle"

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Governor Bob McDonnell is telling Virginians to expect a "tough budget cycle".

It's going to mean cuts; probably to state services, possibly to the payroll as well. The governor -just back from India- said...even the "world" is watching.

At this afternoon meeting of top public and private sector leaders, McDonnell noted that time is running short to finish Virginia's next budget.

"There are a lot of challenges that we have this year," he said.

Expenses like education, healthcare and state pensions are rising faster than state revenues. And so the doors were shut for a candid conversation. Three hours later, the governor emerged with his take on where things are going.

"There's still some degree of pessimism," McDonnell said.

He said budget cuts are coming, but so far, no final decisions. Layoffs are possible, but no specifics. By now, state leaders are getting used to the bare bones.

"I think there was a sense of caution, and that's what we've tried to embody over the last couple of years," Lt. Governor Bill Bolling said.

What's different this time, they say, is in Washington. Deficit gridlock threatens lucrative military spending in Virginia.

"We have an unsustainable and immoral level of spending and debt. And we are mortgaging the future generation," McDonnell added.

With cuts coming from the feds and the executives say the question is: what are the priorities? And the answers aren't fully known just yet.

The governor said Virginians should expect the state to keep finding ways to reform and improve, which likely will involve cutting spending. We'll know more when Governor McDonnell makes his formal budget proposal December 19th.

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