LYNCHBURG, Va. — Gov. Bob McDonnell said Monday the state will be able to beef up its “rainy day” cash reserve fund to almost $1 billion from the past fiscal year’s surplus.
Making the final August multi-city tour of his soon-to-end term, McDonnell told reporters that unspent state appropriations combined with the revenue surplus would allow the state to make a substantial deposit into the fund.
He will announce details of the surplus next week when he addresses the General Assembly’s budget-writing committees.
McDonnell is on a seven-day, 22-city tour of Virginia that culminates Thursday, providing him a respite from his Richmond office and worries over state and federal investigations into his ties to a major campaign donor and businessman who showered the first family with more than $140,000 in gifts and loans the past four years.
McDonnell acknowledged being on the road was a relief, but said his recent troubles had nothing to do with it. He said he no longer reads news accounts about the controversy, and noted that he has done similar tours each summer for the first three years of his term.
“I’ve been changing the subject for five months,” he said, referring to the life span of his troubles. “I’m talking about the things people care about. I can’t control what people want to write about but what I can control is the way government works.”
In McDonnell’s second stop of the day, where he was briefed on a highway interchange project, Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., namesake son of the school’s late founder and television pastor, said he’s followed McDonnell’s travails only peripherally. He said he senses from people he knows that the scandal lost steam after McDonnell apologized publicly late last month that he was returning gifts from Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams Sr. or reimbursing him for them and repaying loans of nearly $125,000.
“I think when something like that happens, your friends are still your friends and your enemies are going to pretend like they were your friends but now they’re your enemies, but they always were your enemies,” said Falwell, who took over as head of the growing Christian school after his father’s death in 2008.
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