Tim Kaine is attempting to get his version of the budget passed by the Virginia legislature, including his so-called "transportation plan". The cornerstone of this plan is a new billion-plus-dollar set of tax increases and new fines -- this despite his promise during the election to veto any new taxes, and in spite of record surpluses already enjoyed by the state brought on by the 2004 tax increase.
He apparently can't persuade them directly by the strength of his argument, so instead he is trying to pressure them into violating his principles and theirs by stirring up the voters against them.
Unlike in 2004, it looks like the House will stand it's ground. And to some, Tim Kaine's approach to persuade them to back his plan looks like it is having the opposite effect. House Speaker William Howell is fighting back against what he calls the "disingenuous" and "misleading" phone calls and radio ads Kaine is using.
According the the Associated Press, as found in the Richmond Times Dispatch article by Bob Lewis, titled Howell blasts Kaine over roads, taxes :
House Speaker William J. Howell called on Gov. Timothy M. Kaine yesterday to "tell it straight" on Kaine's support of higher taxes for transportation and the House's budget plan.
Howell described as "anything but honest" and "unconscionable" Kaine's election-style statewide radio advertisements and automated phone calls intended to pressure House Republicans to support increased fees and taxes.
"It's bad enough that the governor fails to acknowledge in these promotions that he is advocating a massive $1 billion tax increase," said Howell, R-Stafford.
"This not what Virginians expect of their leaders, and it certainly is not what they expect of their governor," Howell said of the ad and call campaign paid for by Kaine's political action committee.
"If you honestly support a tax increase," Howell said, "you ought to be straightforward enough to acknowledge it and not play verbal shell games with the citizens you have been entrusted to serve."
Kaine responds that he has been up-front in his town hall meetings, and it is true that his full plan publication includes the details of his tax proposals. From the article:
Kevin Hall, Kaine's press secretary, dismissed Howell's complaints as "disingenuous" and pointed to numerous public hearings Kaine has held around the state spelling out his transportation plan.
But the governor doesn't mention the tax increases in his phone calls. He does find the time to accuse the house plan of cutting teacher pay and early childhood education, even though the house plan increases funding in all the areas Kaine complains about (not as much as Kaine would, since Kaine would spend the entire surplus AND raise another billion in taxes).
Government is not simply about taking as much money as you can from the citizens and then spending all of it before they figure out what happened. Government is about setting priorities, about using the taxpayer's money wisely. It is about being truthful with the people, both BEFORE the election and after the election.
Kaine fails that test on both accounts. Having apparently lied before the election when he told us he had no plans to raise taxes and would veto any tax increase for transportation passed before an amendment to protect the transportation trust fund was enacted, he now uses outsourced phone banks from Illinois to talk Virginians into supporting him without telling them about the tax increases and by misleading them about the alternatives.
Governor Kaine made a big deal about his character during the campaign, and fought with harsh words any suggestion he would raise taxes, or that he couldn't be trusted to keep his word. Since his election, he has done many things that bring doubt to those noble sentiments he expressed when he was convincing voters to trust him with our state.
If the house can stand firm, it would send a positive message to the Governor that even if his word means nothing to him, it means something to the rest of us, and that if he really wants to make a difference in the next four years, he should start by living up to his own promises. He should also heed the words of his own State of the Union response speech, and work to bring ALL of Virginia together, rather than cynically work to pit a few liberal republicans in the senate against a united house delegation looking for real solutions to the transportation problem.
Update: Chad Dotson also noted this from a different source over at Commonwealth Conservative.