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The current lieutenant governor suggests his party's candidate for governor doesn't understand the importance of business incentives.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Speaking Thursday to a group of Roanoke County business leaders, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling criticized his party’s gubernatorial candidate, saying if Ken Cuccinelli didn’t embrace business incentives programs he wouldn’t be a “jobs governor.”
Bolling, who dropped his bid for the Republican nomination in November, said he thinks the current attorney general’s views likely stem from a lack of hands-on experience.
“The comments I saw attributed to him were that he would be much less inclined to use incentives and more inclined to veto the use of incentives than we have been,” he said. “My hunch is that he may not have done the due diligence at this point, or the research to fully understand why these programs are so important.”
The lieutenant governor was referring to comments made by Cuccinelli in May, in which he said he would take a harder view of incentives than his predecessors.
Bolling said about 10 percent to 15 percent of new business projects in the state use incentive-driven deals, and they tend to be larger projects that can create hundreds of new jobs. In the last three and a half years, the state has created a net 171,000 new jobs, one-third of which are in rural areas, he said.
“You can get rid of all our incentives, but let me tell you, there will be a price to pay for that,” he said. He later added, “You’re not going to be a jobs governor.”
In a written response to Bolling’s comments, Cuccinelli campaign spokeswoman Anna Nix argued the current tax system inhibits growth by letting the government pick winners and losers. Nix added that under Cuccinelli’s jobs plan, a Small Business Tax Relief Commission will evaluate tax loopholes and exemptions, then make recommendations on which ones to eliminate.
Bolling encouraged the business owners in the room to support the candidates they felt would help facilitate growth across the region and the state. He challenged them to question candidates about their specific visions, and to drive the conversation away from ideology.
One of the biggest challenges the state faces is the “Washingtonization” of Richmond, he said.
“There’s no secret about the fact that I’m very concerned about the current direction of the Republican Party in Virginia,” Bolling said. “Our party is having a difficult time today connecting with key demographic groups in our state.”
Following his speech, Bolling said the governor’s race between Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe remains very much up for grabs.
“What you’re seeing right now is Mr. McAuliffe trying to define himself to the voters,” he said. “He’s clearly trying to talk about jobs and the economy, and I give him credit for that, and that’s what this election is about.”
Bolling added that as McAuliffe works to introduce himself to voters, Cuccinelli is trying to redefine his image in an attempt to attract more moderate and independent voters.
Several dozen small and large business owners attended the event, which was sponsored by Roanoke County’s Department of Economic Development. Bolling, who was billed as the keynote speaker, thanked business owners for their efforts while touting the programs he’s helped shepherd during his tenure.
Jill Loope, the county’s acting economic development director, reported Roanoke County’s unemployment rate sits at 4.5 percent, below the state average. Since 2010 more than 1,000 jobs have been added to the local economy, she said.
“It speaks volumes about the county and the business abilities here,” Loope said.
Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Altizer echoed Loope’s comments.
“Things are getting better,” he said. “You can see it on the wall. It’s going to make this valley and Roanoke County a better place to live.”
During the event, four local businesses were honored for their work training employees or preparing them for new jobs. Those businesses were Atlas Logistics, Tecton Products, Integrity Windows and Doors and Optical Cable Corp. Altogether, they received $239,650 in training reimbursement from the state Department of Business Assistance.
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