April 11, 2006
By GINNY WRAY
Martinsville Bulletin Staff Writer
Gov. Timothy Kaine has signed legislation creating the New College Institute in Martinsville, his press secretary said Monday.
Monday was the deadline for Kaine to sign, veto or amend the 958 pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly this year, according to Kevin Hall, the governor's press secretary.
The New College Institute bill signed by Kaine was sponsored by state Sen. W. Roscoe Reynolds, D-Ridgeway. A similar bill, introduced by Del. Ward Armstrong, D-Collinsville, has gone back to the House for consideration of two "strictly technical amendments" requested by House Speaker William J. Howell, Armstrong said.
One amendment provides for proportional representation among the five legislators on the 12-member college board, he said. That means those appointees will mirror the balance of Republicans and Democrats in the House, Armstrong added.
The other seven non-legislator members of the board are to be appointed by the governor.
The second amendment calls for staggered terms of board members, so they do not all expire at one time, he said.
"If there aren't any problems and the House approves the amendments, mine goes up (to the governor) and he'll sign it and the last one signed is enacted," Armstrong explained. If there is a problem with the amendments, Reynolds' legislation will take effect, he added.
"I don't think there will be objections but to be safe, the governor and I agreed he would keep Roscoe's bill on his desk," the delegate said.
Those bills create, but do not fund, the college. Funding is tied up in the budget stalemate on transportation issues that has existed since the assembly adjourned.
"We are farther apart today than we were two weeks ago," Armstrong said. "Probably the budget itself could be reconciled in two or three days if transportation was fixed. Without that, it remains a stalemate."
The House budget earmarked $2.4 million for the New College Institute over two years, and the Senate allotted $1.4 million. Both figures are less than the $4.5 million earmarked by former Gov. Mark Warner for the institute before he left office in January.
At an appearance in Martinsville in February, Kaine vowed to "find dollars to make this thing go because I think it's very important."
While Armstrong said passage of the bill is "such an arduous process; by the time it's done you're too tired to celebrate," he added that "it's time for people to feel good about it.
"There is substantial satisfaction in seeing it done. Once in a while you do something that will do some tangible good for something. This is really doing something that will help the community," Armstrong said.
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