The consequences of reaching the debt ceiling and sequestration will have devastating effects on Virginia's economy, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said yesterday.
"If the debt ceiling is maxed out, the sequester kicks in and the tax cuts expire, I predict that we will slide back into a recession by 2013 that will be worse than 2009," Bolling said at a roundtable with local business leaders and elected officials at the Holiday Inn North Petersburg in Colonial Heights.
The purpose of Bolling's current roundtable tour titled "Reduce Red Tape" is to discuss what can be done at the state and federal level to make it easier to grow and start a business in the commonwealth.
While Bolling mainly focused on Virginia's economy, he warned political leaders to find a solution that would stop the national economy from going over the fiscal cliff before the end of the year. "There are some big issues that folks in D.C. have to deal with in the coming weeks," Bolling said.
And these issues will impact Virginia's economy significantly -- in spite of the fact that with 5.9 percent, the unemployment rate in the commonwealth is two percentage points lower than the national average.
"Things here in Virginia are going in the right direction, but we got a lot more work to do," Bolling said, reminding the group of the state's 3.4 percent unemployment rate before the 2009 recession.
Bolling said that after their election three years ago, he and Gov. Bob McDonnell made the commonwealth's economic recovery their main priority. "We came in at a time when tax revenue collections had declined for two consecutive years for the first time in our history," Bolling said.
McDonnell appointed Bolling as the state's first chief executive jobs officer, who launched his first tour of roundtables shortly after assuming office in 2010.
"The purpose is to pick the brains of local business leaders to find out what works and what doesn't work," he said.
Yesterday, Bolling made the case that the roundtable tours have helped him and McDonnell to develop three strategic job creation plans. "In three years, we have implemented the most aggressive approach in job creation in Virginia's history," he said. "As a result, we are now doing better than most states."
More than 930 economic development deals were closed and 124,000 new jobs were created, Bolling said. Next year, the government's focus will be on regulatory reform, he said.
"There is a light at the end of the tunnel," Bolling said. "I just hope that it is not a train."
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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