VIRGINIA BUDGET

Multimedia Blitz Launched on Transportation Funding Debate

By Michael D. Shear and Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 23, 2006

RICHMOND March 22 -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) launched a multimedia barrage Wednesday aimed at boosting support for transportation tax increases and hammering House delegates who oppose them.

Meanwhile, anti-tax activists have begun a second wave of radio ads criticizing Kaine for pushing tax increases when the state government has record surpluses.

In a radio ad running across the state, Kaine urges the public to tell their delegates that they support plans offered by Kaine and the state Senate to raise taxes and fees for transportation.

The General Assembly, divided on the transportation spending issue, adjourned March 11 without passing a budget. Kaine called for a special session, which is scheduled to start Monday, but the legislators on the budget conference committee have been meeting on and off during the interim.

During the 60-second spot, Kaine says he and his allies have put forward a "long-term statewide solution" to traffic congestion and "out-of-control development."

"House Republicans have a different idea," Kaine says in the ad. "Their plan won't pay for current transportation needs. It actually cuts priorities like teacher pay, early childhood education and gang prevention."

As the ad ends, Kaine says: "You elected me to keep Virginia moving forward. That's what I'm trying to do, but I need your help. Urge your delegate to get moving."

The radio ad, which is being paid for by Kaine's political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward, marks the beginning of an election-style campaign aimed at putting pressure primarily on Republican delegates. Sources have said the campaign is aimed particularly at 26 Republicans who are considered persuadable.

Radio listeners are directed to a telephone number, where an operator gives them the numbers for their delegates.

The PAC's Web site, http://www.movingvirginiaforward.com , was updated Wednesday to allow visitors to dash off e-mails to their lawmakers and add a "make-your-own letter to the editor" tool.

"It's crunch time," said Mo Elleithee, a PAC spokesman. "The governor's got a plan. The Senate's got a plan. The only holdouts now are the House Republicans. This entire campaign is an effort to get Virginians involved in this process and get the House Republicans on board. We can't wait anymore."

Elleithee said the radio ads are running in districts across the state and are tweaked to refer to the regions in which they are playing. He declined to say exactly where they are running or how much they cost. Kaine's PAC had about $450,000 as of the last public reporting date.


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