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May 24, 2004

Governor Gives Budget Crash Course

From: WHSV, VA - May 24, 2004

Damon Dillman

It's billions and billions of our tax dollars, and Gov. Warner is touring the state explaining just what the new budget means to us.

Monday, his stop was in Staunton for a discussion with members of the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"As many of you know, I spent 20 years in business and now two years in politics, and they feel about the same," Warner said, drawing a laugh from the crowd gathered at the Frontier Culture Museum. The General Assembly was in session for 115 days before reaching an agreement earlier this month.

Warner spent most of his morning talk discussing the details of the state's tax reform. He noted that increases in the sales tax and cigarette tax have gotten most of the attention, but the governor was quick to point out that the new budget also brings income tax relief and a lower food tax.

And it also reduces the burden on local governments.

"I had a lot of people say, "Heck, I'd rather have my sales tax go up a little bit, than have my property taxes go up 10 or 15-percent,"" Warner told TV-3 after the discussion.

As for where the money is going, Warner says education funding is his top priority.

"What I find, when I try to bring businesses here to the state, the number one question they ask is, "Tell me about your education system. Tell me about the quality of your workforce,"" he said.

The governor also visited the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in Staunton Monday morning, prior to his meeting with the Chamber.

Warner took part in the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the school's new energy project.

The new system will reduce gas and electricity use by 20-percent or more. Warner said it's another example of how the state can improve performance while saving money.

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