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The Democratic-controlled Senate supported the plan, but the Republican-controlled House was ultimately unwilling to approve the taxes necessary to carry out the project, however, and the effort failed even after a special session of the Legislature was called over the transportation-funding stalemate.

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According to John Moeser, a professor emeritus of urban studies and planning at Virginia Commonwealth University and later a visiting fellow at the University of Richmond's Center for Civic Engagement, during his time as mayor Kaine "was energetic, charismatic and, most important, spoke openly about his commitment to racial reconciliation in Richmond." In the latter part of his term, a contentious debate took place in the city over the inclusion of a portrait of Confederate general Robert E.

Lee in a set of historic murals to be placed on city floodwalls.

Kaine criticized the Bush administration's conduct of the Iraq War and treatment of U. soldiers; saying that "the American people were given inaccurate information about reasons for invading Iraq"; "our troops in Iraq were not given the best body armor or the best intelligence"; and "the administration wants to further reduce military and veterans' benefits." Kaine's conservation efforts focused on conservation easements (voluntary easements that preserve the private ownership of a piece of land while also permanently protecting it from development); a substantial Virginia land preservation tax credit encouraged easements.

From 2004 to 2009, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (a quasi-governmental entity set up in 1966 to preserve open land in the state) protected more land than it had in the previous forty years, a fact touted by Kaine as his term drew to a close.

He was then elected Mayor of Richmond in 1998, and was in that position until being elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2001.