Kaine's Somber View of Economic Woes

Inmate plan causes controversy

Virginia's new legislative session is under way, and Gov. Tim Kaine is offering a somber assessment of ongoing economic troubles.  He is proposing a series of spending cuts to address the state's projected $3 billion shortfall.

In his state of the Commonwealth address, Kaine said he was forced to make tough decisions about what to cut.

Among his proposals: a reduction in spending on administrative and support personnel in schools, cuts in higher education funding and a cap in enrollment to certain Medicaid programs.

Kaine is also pushing for a 30-cent-per-pack increase in Virginia's cigarette tax, and investments in industry and green jobs.

Legislators of both parties seemed to respect the speech's tone. But one proposal did draw some criticism.

Kaine wants to change an existing law that allows the Director of Corrections to release inmates 30 days before the end of their sentences. Kaine hopes to extend the option to as early as 90 days.

He said Virginia's sheriffs and police chiefs have endorsed the measure because it will help reduce overcrowding in jails.

But in a response, Republican Delegate Dave Albo said giving criminals what he called "an early out" is not an appropriate way to save money.

Still, members of both parties vowed to work together to address economic pressures.

Rebecca Blatt reports...

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