Where I Stand on the Issues
Jobs and the Economy
The most pressing issue the General Assembly will face next year is to address legislation that will enhance the growth of Virginia’s economy and create jobs. I will work to maintain Virginia’s strong record of attracting jobs and keeping unemployment numbers as low as possible. This includes protecting our military presence as well as the businesses that support our warriors.
By improving our transportation system, businesses will be able to move goods and services more efficiently; this will increase productivity and increase income/revenue for individuals, as well as the Commonwealth. This will also allow us to fully utilize The Port of Virginia, which is poised to expand and host unlimited trade possibilities. I will work to build a business base to compliment our outstanding medical facilities, including bio-tech, medical research and pharmaceutical interests.
We must streamline the regulatory process to reduce the cost of doing business. This will allow projects, both governmental and private, to come to fruition faster- before inflationary factors make a project cost prohibitive. History tells us that a thriving economy reduces the tax burden on citizens.
I am not a fan of the formula used to fund the most recent transportation package and would have fought to increase funding for transportation through other means. While on the Chesapeake School Board, administration evaluated several programs each year to determine whether they remained effective and were being run efficiently. The same process on the State level should yield savings. The cost of doing business could have been reduced and increased revenue could have been realized through streamlining the regulatory process. For example, the cost of improving Dominion Boulevard has gone from 1 million dollars to build one lane, one mile, to 5 million dollars. Government must accomplish goals better and faster. Tax reform could have also increased revenues by evaluating the propriety of long standing exemptions which may be antiquated. In short, while I may not agree with the way the transportation package was funded, I would not undo it and agree the completion of the projects that will be funded with the legislation are absolutely critical and necessary to our region’s economic prosperity.
I believe the General Assembly should receive and review the report of the Medicaid Innovative and Reform Commission (MIRC) appointed, with bipartisan support, by the General Assembly this past session. This issue has significant budgetary implications to Virginia and our nation. Some have indicated Virginia will “lose” money that will go to other states if we do not expand Medicaid. However, there is no “pot of money” in Washington for the expansion- the Federal Government is borrowing vast sums of money from China to fund its over spending. Further, other states that have implemented forms of Medicaid expansion are finding expenses far exceed those estimated. Before a program is implemented, we should know how much it will cost and how it will be funded.
I am very proud to be a part of Chesapeake Public Schools, having served on the board for nearly twelve years and in my second term as Chairman. During my tenure, I have focused on three important hallmarks of public education: (1) Accountability, (2) Preparing Students for College and the Workforce and (3) Recruiting and Retaining Top Teachers.
Chesapeake Public Schools lead South Hampton Roads in many areas. While we have the best SOL accreditation record in South Hampton Roads, I believe too much emphasis is placed on SOL's which has a “teaching to the test” affect. More emphasis should be placed on critical thinking skill which is not promoted by current educational legislation. In Chesapeake, we have made significant effort to achieve on SOL testing but also place importance on other aspects of learning. In keeping with that philosophy, Chesapeake has the highest on time graduation rate in South Hampton Roads, the lowest dropout rate in South Hampton Roads, and the smallest achievement gap in South Hampton Roads.
I do not believe in State and Federal “one size fits all” solutions as they are not an accurate measure of success and increase the cost to taxpayers regardless of results. I will promote legislation that truly improves our educational system and the learning environment of our children.