RICHMOND, NOV. 29 -- Nearly 11 months after taking office, Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder today unveiled goals for his administration, such as improved health care for children and a crackdown on drugs, but offered few details on how he would accomplish or pay for them.
Before a standing-room audience of his top aides, summoned to the General Assembly Building, Wilder said his "basic vision for the future" of the state "can be planned even as a ship of state is being rocked upon the high seas of fiscal uncertainty."
Among programs proposed by Wilder were:
A conservation corps for low-achieving, unemployed dropouts, referred by the courts and social service agencies, who would build nature trails, renovate houses for low-income residents and work in state parks. Most of the costs would be covered by the federal Job Training Partnership Act.
Expansion of early childhood education to assure that by 1996, all 4-year-olds who need special help are able to get it.
A plan to ensure that the 15 percent of state residents under 18 who have no health insurance get basic coverage by 2000.
An anti-drug program that would use mostly federal funds to seek elimination of domestically cultivated marijuana and manufactured illicit drugs and to coordinate police efforts to stop drug shipments by land, air and water. Wilder also would set up a hot line where resi-
dents could phone in tips about drug crimes.
Wilder said he offered no transportation initiatives because "the money is not there for any significant construction." Earlier this month, voters soundly rejected a Wilder-backed plan to finance highway projects through the sale of bonds.
Even as he outlined the programs, Wilder acknowledged that "if the economic situation gets worse," some of his plans, and existing programs, might have to be trimmed.
Wilder already has cut more than $1.3 billion from state spending plans for the current two-year budget cycle. He said today the next revision of the state's revenue forecast, scheduled for Dec. 19, "may not be significantly worse, but it's not going to be any better" than the news last August that prompted the sweeping reductions.
Wilder, who earlier this year endorsed studies in education and health care that seek to diminish disparities between rich and poor areas of the state, told his Cabinet secretaries and agency chiefs that "your job and mine -- indeed our social and moral obligation -- is to ensure that all Virginians get a fair shake; that all families enjoy the maximum benefit of their tax dollars at work; that all individuals in all walks of life have equal access to the opportunities that abound in the commonwealth."
He added that "the bounty that we know as Virginia belongs to us all. Unfortunately, not all Virginians have shared in that bounty in recent years."
Wilder, who is attempting to portray himself as a fiscal conservative in hopes of adding to his attractiveness as a national political candidate in 1992, said he "won't be raising taxes" to finance any of his proposals.
Asked if he would pledge not to raise taxes throughout his four-year term, Wilder said, "I would like that to be the case, but I am a practical person."
Also today, Education Secretary James W. Dyke Jr. called for a study of "educational choice," a movement underway nationally that gives parents flexibility in determining which schools their children attend.
While not committing to any specific proposal, Dyke called upon the State Board of Education to study whether programs like those in Milwaukee; Cambridge, Mass.; and the State of Minnesota would have merit in Virginia.