Where Va. candidates for governor stand on issues

(Republican Robert F. Mcdonnelldemocrat R. Creigh Deeds)
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Sunday, November 1, 2009


Deeds wants to raise Virginia teacher salaries to the national average. He would expand early education, offering pre-kindergarten classes to more low-income students. He would put more emphasis on math and science and expand a program that allows students to get college credit while in high school. He wants to expand opportunities to take advanced placement and other courses online. He has proposed a scholarship program that would pay half the public college tuition of Virginia students who maintain a B average and pledge two years to public service after graduation. He wants state schools to award 70,000 additional college degrees over the next 10 years.

McDonnell has called for raising teacher salaries to the national average, in part by instituting performance pay to reward successful teachers. He wants to increase the number of charter schools in Virginia, which now has only four, in part by creating a state board to approve charter applications instead of leaving it to local school boards. He has called for mandating that local school systems spend 65 percent of their budgets in the classroom. He wants state schools to award 100,000 additional college degrees over the next 15 years.


Deeds has not offered specific proposals to fund transportation improvements. In an op-ed piece published last month in The Washington Post, Deeds said that "all options for funding will be on the table," including a tax increase. He has also said that he would appoint a bipartisan commission to study transportation, and he has pledged to push transportation reform through the General Assembly in his first year in office. Deeds has supported an increase in the gas tax in the past. Now set at 17.5 cents a gallon, the tax generates the bulk of the revenue -- less than $900 million a year -- that Virginia spends on road construction.

McDonnell issued a 20-page transportation plan promising to generate $1.5 billion a year for the next 10 years for road and rail improvements. His ideas include the sale of state liquor stores, heavy borrowing, new tax revenue from growth at Virginia's ports, money from offshore oil and gas drilling and tolls on interstates 95 and 85. He has said he will not support a tax increase to finance transportation improvements. Critics have said several of his estimates are overstated, notably for port revenue, which is currently falling.

Energy and Environment

Deeds has long been a favorite of environmentalists and received the endorsements of both the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club. However, he upset some of those advocates recently when he released an ad critical of cap-and-trade legislation moving through Congress. He has proposed making state government much more energy-efficient and requiring 22 percent of the state's energy to come from renewable sources such as wind and biomass by 2025.

McDonnell has said he also supports alternative sources of energy, but on the campaign trail, he has emphasized the role that coal and nuclear power can and do play in meeting Virginia's growing energy demand. He has been sharply critical of cap-and-trade policies, which he has said will eliminate jobs and hurt Virginia's economy.

Both men have said they will preserve 400,000 acres of open space and have pledged to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and they have proposed incentives to attract "green" industries to the state to create jobs. Both have said they would be open to off-shore drilling, but McDonnell has been particularly aggressive, indicating that under his administration, Virginia would in 2011 become the first state on the East Coast to pursue exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas off its coast.


McDonnell has said he is against abortion in every instance, including rape and incest, except when the life of the mother is in danger. As a legislator, he supported bills to ban a procedure opponents refer to as partial-birth abortion; to require minors to obtain parental consent before having an abortion; and to mandate a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking one.

Deeds favors abortion rights. He supported bills that required parental notification when a child was seeking an abortion but not bills that required parental consent or a waiting period. He voted for a ban on partial-birth abortion but later changed his mind because he said he worried that the bills were unconstitutional.

Gun control

Both Deeds and McDonnell are strong supporters of gun rights and have high ratings from the National Rifle Association, although McDonnell received the NRA endorsement this year. As legislators, Deeds and McDonnell voted repeatedly to stop localities from enforcing gun laws more restrictive than the state's, including proposed bans on guns at community centers, parks and school campuses. They also voted to limit government lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

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