Topic A: What Would You Ask Deeds and McDonnell?

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

In advance of Thursday's gubernatorial debate in Fairfax, The Post asked Virginia politicians, activists and political observers: "If you could ask R. Creigh Deeds and Robert F. McDonnell one question, what would it be, and why?" Below are contributions from Sally Baird, Bob Holsworth, Marjorie Signer, Olivia L. Gans, Jay Fisette, Margaret Edds and Thomas M. Davis.

SALLY BAIRD

Chair, Arlington School Board

The past two governors have ensured that funding for K-12 education remained a top priority. Please describe how your voting record indicates that you will protect K-12 education in difficult economic times. Be specific about what have been, and what currently are, your highest priorities in the following categories: teacher salaries; school construction; funding for pre-K education support for at-risk students; adequate staffing for students who have limited English proficiency; vouchers; and charter schools.

Why this question? Arlington residents and all Virginians realize that difficult budget years lie ahead and that cuts to K-12 funding lead to decreases in students' academic achievement and future job opportunities.

They also realize that politicians like to ignore their records and promise more than they intend to deliver.

BOB HOLSWORTH

Founder and president, VirginiaTomorrow.com

One of your first tasks as governor will be to propose modifications to the biennial budget that Gov. Tim Kaine submits on his way out of office. For the next two years, will your administration spend more money, less money or about the same amount as Virginia does today in the following areas: (a) public schools, (b) colleges and universities, (c) roads and transportation, and (d) health care?

This is a reality-check question. Candidates often speak about putting government on a diet but then promise new spending on programs that the public supports (without a clear means of payment). By the time the next governor takes office, Virginia will have essentially depleted its rainy-day fund and used both federal stimulus dollars and one-time budget adjustments to make up existing shortfalls.

What will the next governor tell us today about the fiscal choices that we are likely to face?

MARJORIE SIGNER


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