Virginia Gov. Mills E. Godwin today renewed his oblique suggestions that the General Assembly raise taxes to produce at least enough money for a contingency reserve and a pay raise for all state employees.
However, in his appearance before the Senate Finance Committee, Godwin again declined to propose specific tax measures.
"I am not suggesting any particular tax to you," he said. "I am simply saying there are avenues that can be taken. I leave the door open to all proposals and am willing to talk to you about them at any time."
Godwin made his statement as the Senate committee took up consideration of tax collection accelerations and budget reductions adopted last week by the House of Delegates. Those measures were adopted to close a projected $102 million gap between revenue and spending in the state's current biennial budget. The biennium ends June 30, 1978.
Godwin was gently critical of budget actions by the House, whose 100 members are up for re-election this year and gave no serious consideration to a tax increase. "It is clear that the mood was not one for increased taxes," he said.
Leaders of the Senate, whose 40 members do not face an election until 1979, have expressed more willingness to consider tax increases this year but also have said it would be futile to send a major tax package back to the House during this session, which is scheduled to end March 4.
Although he did not name a figure, Godwin's statement to the Finance Committee indicated he would like to see a minimum of about $40 million added to the budget approved by the House. He said state employee salaries are no longer competitive with private industry and he called one $25 million pay increase proposal "inadequate." He also asked for a reserve fund much larger than the $382,000 surplus provided by the House in the biennial $3.6 billion state operation budget.
Godwin repeated earlier statements that he could not consider putting together a bond issue proposal until the current operating budget is satisfactarily balanced. Many legislators are pressing for a bond issue that would finance up to $175 million in college.