Virginia Gentleman: First, on a political note, there has been discussion of a rivalry or division between Northern Virginia Republicans and Richmond Republicans. Do you think the divide is real or exaggerated?
Lt.Gov. Bill Bolling: I’m not aware of any division between Northern Virginia Republicans and Richmond Republicans. We’re are all on the same team and we’re all working toward the same goal of defeating President Obama and Tim Kaine in November.
Virginia Gentleman: With the Senate now evenly split what type of power sharing arrangement do you envision?
Lt. Gov.Bill Bolling: When the Senate organized last week we organized with a Republican majority, I was pleased to cast the tie breaking vote to give us that majority. As a result we now have a Republican floor leader, Republican chairmen on all committees and Republican majorities on all but one committee. I think that will improve the quality of leadership in the Senate, and it will help Governor McDonnell and me advance our legislative priorities.
Virginia Gentleman: What will be some of your top priorities this session?
Lt. Gov.Bill Bolling: Our focus has not changed. We will continue to emphasize the need to govern Virginia in a fiscally responsible way and pursue policies that will help get our economy growing again and create jobs. In addition, we’ll work to make investments in the core responsibilities of state government, things like education, transportation, public safety and the like. Finally, we’ll be pursuing an aggressive government reform agenda this year, looking for ways to streamline state government and make it smaller and smarter.
Virginia Gentleman: How would you judge the McDonnell record as Governor so far?
Lt.Gov.Bill Bolling: I’m very pleased with the progress we have made in our first two years. We’ve worked hard to restore our state’s financial foundation. When we took office we inherited a $6B budget shortfall, but by reducing spending and emphasizing economic growth we have balanced our budget and produced surpluses of almost $1B over the past two years.We have also emphasized job creation, and we’ve had a lot of success there. In the past two years, we have closed over 700 economic development deals in our state, we have created over 55,000 net new jobs and reduced our unemployment rate from 7.2% to 6.2%. And now that our economy is growing again, we have made significant reinvestments in higher education and transportation. In fact, last year we made the largest investment in highway construction and maintenance in 25 years. We still have a lot of work to do, but we’ve accomplished a lot in the past two years.
Virginia Gentleman: Do you think Republicans will carry Virginia in this year’s race for President?
Lt.Gov.Bill Bolling: I think so. Virginians recognize that President Obama has been a failed president. His policies have failed to improve the economy, and his anti-business approach has actually made it worse. And internationally this President has abandoned our allies, embraced our adversaries and made us weaker and less safe. In 2008, Virginians gave President Obama the benefit of the doubt and embraced his call for hope and change, but they now know that was a mistake. I don’t think they’ll make that mistake again. I think they’ll vote Republican this November because they now know that’s the only way to get the country back on the right track.