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Morning Read: A Legacy Defined?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A legacy defined? Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will unveil his state budget Monday, and many believe this could be the defining moment of his time as governor.

    The Richmond Times-Dispatch is calling it the "fiscal foundation of his legacy." The Associated Press, on the other hand, breaks out a Christmas reference for the budget's unveiling. The AP said that McDonnell played the role of Santa last week by announcing "a record employer contribution to buttress the underfunded public employee pension system, a 3 percent bonus for state employees, $230 million more for higher education," but that "McDonnell’s Grinch is likely to emerge" when he presents his budget plan. As the AP put it: "Increases in one part of the state budget will necessitate corresponding reductions elsewhere in the budget. Either that or a tax increase, which McDonnell and Republican legislative leaders won’t consider."

    The Times-Dispatch believes the budget could exceed $78 billion -- a whopping amount, but something McDonnell doesn't flinch at.

    “We are certainly looking better now than we were two years ago, [but] there still needs to be a number of decisions about where to apply [those] resources,” the governor was quoted as saying by the Washington Times, which said that the commonwealth "is crawling back from years of dwindling revenues and budget cuts, but is nowhere near out the woods heading into 2012."

    Look for more reaction throughout the day after the budget is officially unveiled, especially since there's a possibility of more layoffs, as the Times-Dispatch alluded to, and a willingness to avoid new taxes.

    Oh, and there's that other little political elephant in the room to discuss, too -- how McDonnell's budget will make him look as a potential vice presidential candidate in 2012...

    * For those looking for game-changing ethics reforms in Prince George's County, you may have to wait. The Washington Examiner reported that "County Executive Rushern Baker said an inspector general's office may not be necessary to help the county clean up its ethics lapses." The reason: money, according to the Examiner.

    "Money may be a hindrance, because what we're talking about is establishing a new office, which means hiring additional personnel and all the resources to go with it," Council Chairwoman Andrea Harrison, D-Bladensburg, told the Examiner. "Do we want to do that at the risk of not being able to provide some other services? I don't know what it would cost."

    * D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown wants to know, "How could one SUV story last 11 months?" Should D.C. residents answer for him? Brown's question was documented by columnist Jonetta Rose Barras in the Examiner as part of a piece on the "dark side of 2011: politicians behaving badly."

    * WAMU reports that Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) continues his push for spending cuts in the Defense Department -- something he started as a member of the failed super committee. WAMU said that "many prominent Republicans want to unwind the automatic budget cuts to the Defense Department that were a part of the deal setting up the special panel." Van Hollen told the station that compromises have to be made because "the approach they're taking here doesn't approach the revenue side of the equation at all."

    * The Georgetown Dish reports that Hillary Clinton will give a "major speech on women, peace and security" at 2:30 p.m. today at Georgetown University. If you can't be there in person but are interested, it will be streamed live at webcast.georgetown.edu.

    * You know you're wondering. But no, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley had not received a response -- via Twitter or otherwise -- from Lady Gaga as of Friday, according to the Washington Times. O'Malley tweeted at Madonn...err, Lady Gaga about their shared passion to end bullying. But the Twitters, they are a-silent. Times writer Matthew Cella has an idea, however: "Rather than giving up, perhaps the governor should send Ms. Gaga another tweet, this time extolling his own musical talents?"