Delegate Lacey Putney had a Town Hall meeting in Fincastle at the Old General District Court Building on Thursday night, October 29. Putney is up for re-election this year and if he wins, will have spent 50 years of his life in legislative service at the end of the next term.
The turnout was light, but school superintendent Dr. Tony Brads of the Botetourt school division was there as well as several other interested parties. Putney did not sugar coat the dire financial state of the Commonwealth and said that the public should be prepared for more budget cuts come January when the General Assembly returns to Richmond.
“I do not support new taxes. The taxpayers of the State of Virginia do not need that right now during these hard economic times. We must be prepared that perhaps for the next four years there may be as much as eight billion in new budget cuts and unless there is a general turn around, this is going to hurt.”
Nor could Putney promise that K-12 funding will escape the budget axe the next time around. Last year Gov. Tim Kane was able to keep those education funds in the budget. He spoke directly to Brads on the issue. “Tony, I just don’t know.” Putney is the chairman of Appropriations Committee, so he has a really good read on the financial status. He noted that both the general fund and the special fund are down and that the shortfall is going to be the reason for more cuts. “People who paid quarterly taxes are way down for one reason,” he said.
Putney did say that higher education has already taken a beating and they have needs that are not being met. He sponsored legislation that is keeping some construction going at state colleges and universities as he said, “while contractors are lean and need the work, the costs are less.” both the state and private industry are benefiting from that legislation he said. He hopes to find funds to re-open Troutville’s Camp 25, and perhaps the juvenile facility in Rockbridge, but there are no promises that will be a possibility. “Money is just really tight,” he said and offered up, “I have sponsored legislation that has created new jobs it is just imperative that we keep supporting the creation of such.”
Transportation is a huge part of the needs in Virginia. He was not sure any more stimulus money would come in and help either. Putney said he didn’t want to burden the Town Hall attendees, but they needed a realistic look at what the Commonwealth is facing. Election Day is November 3 and he faces two challengers, Will Smith of the Constitution Party and Lewis Medlin, a Democrat.