Sunday, January 08, 2006

No Holidays for Warner

Hope everyone had relaxing holidays. My wife and I ordered out five meals of Indian food from Devon Street (Chicago) on Christmas eve like we were stocking up for a natural disaster. Other than doing minor work for a local congressional candidate and eating Indian food, my holiday mainly consisted of watching TV, reading and just generally relaxing. First Christmas in some time we haven't visited family, so my stress levels are very low.

But WOW, Gov. Warner was busy. I didn't even know where to start to catch up until I saw the Daily Press's article, "Warner working until the last possible minute."

Outgoing Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner is still keeping busy well into his final days in office.

Set to leave office on Saturday, Warner has ended with a rush, packing significant work into the final weeks of his administration.

Blessed with a fat budget, he has proposed rebuilding two state hospitals, including Eastern State in Williamsburg. Legislative leaders say the plan is something that comes along once in a generation.

He is pushing for a record investment in water quality and wants to spend half a billion dollars to boost research efforts in higher education.

He has ordered a broad review of past criminal cases where DNA testing could play a role. It came after DNA tests showed that Virginia had wrongfully convicted two men of rape, which earned them full pardons. Most recently, he helped broker an agreement to re-test evidence that could prove Virginia sent an innocent man to the electric chair in 1992. See more:

1) Proposing military spending to take care of national guard members. Read more:

RICHMOND, Va. Governor Mark Warner is proposing nearly 38-point-five (m) million dollars for the Department of Military Affairs to increase the work force at Fort Pickett, provide recruitment incentives for the Virginia National Guard and maintain the state's 49 armories.

It would up the department's budget by two-point-eight (m) million dollars to further support the guard and other state agencies.

The largest part of the department's budget -- that's 26-point-five (m) million ollars -- goes to defense preparedness, including operations and maintenance. The remainder is for support like tuition and financial assistance for guard members and
their families.

Warner spokesman Kevin Hall says Warner considers stepping up funding to improve Fort Pickett and other training facilities a top priority.

2) Proposing conservation of Virginia forest areas. Read more:

A move by Gov. Mark Warner to protect roadless acreage in the George Washington and Jefferson National forests could affect 38,649 acres in Rockingham County, according to the National Forest Service.

Warner is asking the federal government for the protection. Warner’s petition comes under a rule, promulgated by the Bush Administration, that repealed the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule in Virginia last May. The rule permits governors to request changes in roadless areas.

3) Announcing the creation of new jobs in Newport News, Virginia. Read more:

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner last week said Wolseley, a distributor of plumbing and heating products, is investing $30 million to build a 220,000-square-foot headquarters in Newport News.

The new location eventually will add more than 400 jobs to the area.

Mr. Warner, a Democrat, also announced that Stihl Inc. will invest $78.4 million to expand its facility in Virginia Beach, creating 150 jobs.

The company makes the world's largest-selling brand of chain saws and a full line of hand-held power tools.

The state competed successfully against Brazil, Germany and Switzerland for the project.

4) Building education infrastruture to help rural areas compete in the global economy. Read more:

MARTINSVILLE, Va. - The Harvest Foundation’s Doug Payne recalled a rather stressful dinner he had with Gov. Mark Warner in September as the two discussed his plans to bring a four-year state university to Martinsville.

Warner said the dinner focused on Payne’s ability to formulate a realistic plan for the college - one that involved partnering with existing institutions, garnered visual support from the state and local governments and had a good chance of surviving the legislature.

“We have made significant progress toward that goal over the last few weeks and months,” Payne said Monday as he thanked Warner for the $4.5 million in state funds the governor included for the New College Institute in his 2006-08 budget proposal.

5) Building government infrastruture to help respond to diasters or terrorism. Read more:

Richmond, Va. (AP) - Governor Mark Warner conducted the first live, public transmission of Virginia's new Statewide Agencies Radio System.

The system - known as STARS - provides Virginia's state level first responders with integrated voice and data communications. Warner says that using the system, Virginia's 21 state agencies will be able to communicate directly with one another.

During an afternoon press conference, Warner demonstrated the radio system by talking to Virginia State Police Trooper Gary Horner, Jr.

In November 2002, Horner was shot seven times at an Interstate 64 rest area in New Kent County. It took him four tries to get in touch with a state police dispatcher in Richmond.

The state entered into a $329 million dollar contract with Motorola for the system in July 2004. STARS is being integrated into the state agencies over a six-year period. It is expected to be fully implemented by the summer of 2008.

Virginia is preparing to compete in the global economy from physical infrastructure, education, good paying jobs while still practicing conservation and investing in government response. But without Warner's leadership on the tax system overhaul early in his governorship, his latest budget would not be possible.


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