In highly contested elections, candidates are rarely asked questions that pertain to their personal lives, as their political agendas command all the attention. It is in this regard that Kathy Kemper stands apart. Kemper not only gets answers to the most pertinent of issues, but also explores the candidate’s tastes and preferences. This is Part II of a series.
Q. Horrible traffic conditions have plagued Northern Virginia for many years now. Several different steps have been taken to fix this problem, with no real advances. As governor, what innovative new approaches will you take to repair one of Virginia’s biggest weaknesses?
Sen. Creigh Deeds (D): We all largely agree about what we need to do to fix our transportation infrastructure. Where my opponent and I disagree is the best approach to actually get it done.
I believe we should use the only approach that has succeeded in the last two decades. The last time we passed meaningful transportation funding was under Gov. [Gerard] Baliles, who created a commission to provide recommendations and build support for financing. Since then, each time a governor has presented a transportation proposal to the General Assembly, it’s failed. The day after I’m elected, I will begin assembling a bipartisan commission to craft a comprehensive transportation package. Like Gov. Baliles, I will appoint Republicans, Democrats and Independents alongside other lawmakers, private-sector leaders and transportation experts. And we’ll get it done my first year as governor.
Robert F. McDonnell (R.): Bob McDonnell has laid out a comprehensive transportation plan with innovative ideas and funding mechanisms to improve roads all around the state. Transportation is one of the most important issues to voters in Northern Virginia. In Northern Virginia, our priority projects include widening I-66 inside and outside the Beltway, completing the 495 HOT lane project on time and on budget, beginning the process of I-395/I-95 HOT lanes to Fredericksburg, rail to Dulles, high-speed passenger rail and Route 7 improvements.
To fund transportation without raising taxes, Bob has outlined 12 funding mechanisms to improve roads, including privatizing Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and dedicating proceeds to transportation. Northern Virginia is a significant economic engine of the commonwealth and more of the money raised there should stay in Northern Virginia. Therefore, McDonnell will propose that 30 percent of all sales tax collected in Northern Virginia be retained in the region, to go into the Northern Virginia regional account. It is estimated that for every .10 percent of the sales tax, $35 million will be allocated to the fund; thus, this proposal will generate $105 million in new revenue. In addition, he has proposed issuing $3 billion in available bonds for transportation, and supporting future bond issuance of $1 billion for highly congested areas.