The following is from Virginia House Democratic Leader David Toscano (D-Charlottesville):
GOVERNOR MCDONNELL’S “PICK ME” TOUR; A DEMOCRATIC VIEW
By David J. Toscano, House Democratic Leader
Governor McDonnell just spent the last six days traveling across Virginia and more than $400,000 on TV ads designed to rehabilitate an image tarnished by the recent General Assembly session. However, no amount of campaign stops and television ads can erase the embarrassment Governor McDonnell and his Republican allies brought to Virginia in 2012.
Republicans used their majorities to push through radically conservative legislation, most notably a bill that will force women to undergo embarrassing, expensive, and medically unnecessary ultrasounds, and then would force them to pay for that very procedure. Republicans passed a law allowing faith based adoption agencies to discriminate against loving parents.
Finally, in an attempt to fix a problem that does not exist, Republicans are pressuring the Governor to sign legislation that effectively disenfranchises voters across Virginia, including students, African-Americans, and seniors.
While fighting against Republicans’ efforts to jerk Virginia radically to the right, Democrats focused on a positive agenda to better fund our schools, provide greater funding for transportation, make health care more affordable, and protect the rights of women.
Education is Virginia’s best jobs program. The only way that our children will be able to compete in a 21st century global economy is if we provide them a first class education. Governor McDonnell’s proposed budget seriously shortchanged K-12 education, and House Democrats successfully fought to restore a significant amount the funding. But more needs to be done. We still grossly underpay our teachers (we rank 31st among the states), and Virginia’s per pupil spending is lower than what was spent in 2009.
Yet another year has passed without a comprehensive transportation solution. Citizens who sit in traffic every day instead of spending that time at work or with their families know the importance of getting Virginia moving again. The lack of funding for transportation is highlighted in a new report by the Hampton Roads transportation Planning Organization which shows that Virginia ranks second to last in the nation in new highway construction. The Governor’s solution imposes new fees on middle class families by supporting expensive tolls in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia. Taxing through tolls and borrowing money is not a comprehensive solution. That is why Democrats are pushing not only for a statewide solution but also for more funding for transit and rail, including additional funding for Dulles Rail – arguably the most significant economic development project in the Commonwealth.
Finally, House Democrats successfully fought against the Governor’s plans to cut funding for Community Health Centers and Free Clinics, while arguing for the creation of the Virginia Health Marketplace. The marketplace would allow customers and small businesses to have access to better information about health care plans and their costs, thereby increasing competition and driving down costs.
In Virginia, there is a clear alternative. Whether it’s education, transportation, or women’s health care, Virginia Democrats continue to push comprehensive, practical solutions. With so many Virginia families worried about the direction of our economy, Democrats are focused not on a narrow social agenda but on policies that will create opportunity and jobs for the future, while building the infrastructure that will allow the Commonwealth and its citizens to compete and succeed in the years ahead.