I N D E X   P A G E S:
Beyer and Gilmore Field Questions on Advertising, EducationThe Washington Post
Thursday, October 9, 1997
Democrat Donald S. Beyer Jr. and Republican James S. Gilmore III joined Post reporters and editors for a 90-minute discussion on the Virginia governor's race. What follows is the transcript of the candidates' luncheon talk. Only a few sentences were omitted. They included phrases or words that were inaudible on the tape of the lunch.
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This is a cease and desist and I would agree with Jim, I think if we can stop the negative campaigning it would be good for our personal health and certainly probably good for the voters. But I think we have to do it together.
One of the ways to do it is for us to mutually agree to do the ads to camera and get rid of the anonymous voices and the scary music and the empty swing stuff and all that. But again, I think it'd have to be done mutually, and I'd be happy to do that.
You all are saying probably, 'Well, I've heard this all before.' Well, sure we have. That's because from the very beginning of the campaign I've been talking in a positive way about what I want to do with education. The New Century Scholar program came out a year ago, was thoroughly covered I believe by The Post and all the other Journals as well. It's very forward-looking and optimistic about what we hoped to do by starting to provide incentives in education. Detail has been offered about continuing the tuition freeze by raising the state support. And then, of course, obviously the highest profile proposals I put forward, you know, the tax relief for the people of Virginia, the elmination of personal property tax on cars and trucks, is being discussed everywhere in every household everywhere in Virginia.
And I think it's important to put that in context. The negative stuff, and I don't want to point any fingers, but there's been a lot of negative stuff for a long time. We saw all of Jim's direct mail, four pieces in the Northern Virginia ... that were very negative, long before we ever went on TV. We have tried in virtually all the ads, I think there's one exception, to provide a balance of positive and contrast. But I still think the public would be better served if we could agree just to talk about our respective visions, and I hope when push comes to shove, that this election isn't decided on you know a tie vote that I cast or Jim's position on vouchers or this or that, but rather our respective visions for Virginia's future.
I think they are different, I think they're compelling. Jim's made the centerpiece [of his campaign] the elimination of personal property tax, and I've made the centerpiece a very detailed agenda to making our schools the best in the nation. And I'd like nothing more than for the debate to be about those respective visions in the next 25 days.
I'm satisifed we can do these things. And we have laid that out to the people of Virginia in a positive way. I'm offering to put forward a measure that ... will make a commitment to put 4,000 additional teachers into the elementary schools. People want [inaudible] education. I'm prepared to make those investments and we've made a billion dollars additional investments over the last four years in education. I believe we should continue to invest in education and other important areas as well. But I believe, and it may be a great difference, that it is time that the people of Virginia ought to have something back so that they can do something to share in this great opportunity that we're seeing in Virginia right now. I think that it is a fundamental difference. And I believe that we should.
And you know, don't be fooled by these statistics that say that Virginia is a low-tax state. It isn't true. And the people of Virginia know it isn't true.
I think the big difference, Jim talks about the need to provide tax relief for the hard-working families of Virginia, and it's a great soundbite, and I think one of the big differences between the tax relief that I have focused on and his is that mine does a much better job of hitting those hard-working families of Virginia. And that creates an enormous difference in the amount of money that we have to spend on education.
I've limited mine to families making less than $75,000 a year. Arguably that will help Northern Virginians the least. Jim does a good job of pointing out the Northern Virginians who won't be affected by my plan. There won't be any of my Volvo customers and none of my Land Rover customers. [laughter]. But it will help the coalminers, it will help the manufacturers in South Side, the manufacturing workers. It will help. The mean family income in Virginia is $39,000, so you almost double it to ... it up. The big difference though is not helping you know my customers here in Northern Virginia saves us an enormous amount of money. So just look at the years that we're in office. VML[name] estimates that Jim's plan cost $1.6 billion over four years, mine costs $800 million over four years. So while we're in office that's an $800 million difference, which can be directly dedicated to education. To smaller class sizes. To better teacher standards, better teacher salaries. To more computers in classrooms. And many things like that.
Jim's side says no car tax. It's a very, you know sexy message for an awful lot of people. But what I want our side to say, and what we want our ads to say, is the best schools. Because if we have to have a difference in vision, I want the lion's share of Virginia's growth to be dedicated to education, from pre-kindergarten to those average kids right through graduate school. And as I understand my opponent's plan, the vast lion's share of Virginia's growth —- maybe more —- will be dedicated to personal property taxes.
I confess to some naivete because I found that the simple admission of saying I wanted to leave every tax tool on the table became the political equivalent in 1997 of promising to raise taxes.
I know my distinguished opponent flew around the state the very next day saying, 'Don Beyer's now promised to raise your taxes.' It was very important to me to not try to defend a position -- a political equivalent position -- of a promise to raise taxes. That's not where I am, that's not where I've ever been. And I made it clear in many speeches and in my conversations with your Virginia reporters that we have made enormous progress through many different governors without raising taxes. We've done some very important things. And that I reject the philosophy that says the government must take an ever greater share of our income in order to do important things. And I'm very content to live within the parameters of the resources that we have and will grow over the next four years.
And I think we can do important things for education with the money that we're going to have.
But when you look at people who are above any of his ceilings and combine that with poor people who just cannot apply for tax credits, you find some startling things which I have said and that is that 61 percent of the senior citizens of the state would never be able to apply under this plan and 38 percent of all Virginians would not be able to apply and over half of the people of Northern Virginia would not be able to apply.
And I don't really think that Don had thought about that when he came forward with these proposals because it's just not something that's workable and VML .... it's not right. They can take positions that they want to and they're a lobbying group for local elected officials and I understand that but they're just not right. We looked at these numbers very, very carefully and just to inflate them in order to make some type of political point is not right.
And with respect The Post, leaving every tool on the table, well he made it very clear with you all when he announced that these things were linked. They were there. There was a long discussion about the massive new spending programs, a lot of very specific quotes about the big-ticket items being worth doing and so on like that. And then leaving every tool on the table is a very clear ... and training the minds of people to get them ready to do these kinds of things. It was very clear what was going on. I don't think The Post distorted his position at all when they printed it and published it, I think it's very logical what was going on.
And I can't remember if it was this Journal or whether it was another said, 'You know Don, did your consultants say anything to you about this?' And I think you said, I think he said specifically, he said, 'Yeah, they said that I could still possibly win election but not probably.' And that was in response to the questioning from a reporter. So I don't think Don's being completely square with you.
Well, first of all, I think it's very fair to address Don's vote in 1992 to release criminals early because he has come forward and he has said that he was very strongly in favor and helped implement and push forward the elimination of parole in this state -— when the reverse is true. In 1992, when he had to address an issue like that, he made his vote. And the fact is that Don has not worked in the criminal justice system. I have. And I know how this system works.
I've worked with police officers across the state. I've worked with fellow prosecutors across the state. I've sent prosecutors into the cases in court, and we know how these things are supposed to work and how they do work. And the fact of the matter is that when you take a person and release them because of a non-violent crime which is the philosophy that he has put forward even in his current literature, and say that they're going to be released early, then it needs to be understood that people are in the penitentiary because they have records. And they sometimes have violent records. And they may be in on a particular non-violent crime at this point, but they're the kind of individual who will go back out and commit violent crimes. And I've seen it repeatedly. There are examples that we can provide to you that are happening. So I think it's legitimate to talk about this particular approach to crime and law enforcement, particularly in light of the other ads that he's put on.
And as for his, you know, the teachers' program, you know, the plan that he has to raise teachers' salaries $400 million, does not add teachers. Now, he may have some other different kind of plan or he may say that we're going to be putting more teachers in because of standards of living, but I want to put these 4,000 teachers that I want to put in the schools in addition to that. That's what I want to do. I want to make a big difference in addition to the ratio, and that's the way to do it -- to begin to move in this direction with those four thousand teachers. And I think it's legitimate. It's a big-ticket item, which is raising teachers' salaries, and it doesn't add teachers in that regard. And as for they still pay the tax, I don't even understand what you mean.
Certainly, people who have expensive automobiles will stay have to pay on a difference, but even they are going to get $20,000 worth of benefit in value on this tax, even that small group, that 10 percent that would have more than that. But 90 percent are going to pay zero tax.
This is going to be elimination of the tax. Don Beyer's plan does not eliminate the tax, they're going to have to pay it year after year after year and then roll the dice whether they're going to be in a financial position to apply for some kind of credit under his plan.
If Jim's plan does pass--
The new increases in Medicaid, increases in school-age population, increases in mental health. That's going to leave $2.1 [billion], $2.2 billion. Mine's going to commit $800 million of that roughly to tax relief. And you can have a significant stumble in budget projections and still be able to afford the $800 million. May I also say just as a closing, that I didn't accuse The Post of distorting my record, I've taken responsibility for saying I'd leave every tool on the table. The challenge was my not understanding that simple statement became the equivalent of a promise to increase taxes in 1997 political language.
What I found was that going all around the state, the people that I most cared about, the people who I thought I could make the greatest difference in their lives, were the ones who were complaining most bitterly about the car tax. African-American Virginians, people in the lower-income neighborhoods, guys working in the plants. And I didn't offer a similar plan to Jim's. Mine's about as different a personal property tax relief plan as you can get.
And Jim argues that under my plan you still have to pay the tax. Well, you do because I don't want to mess with what the government, I don't want to take away their ability to tax and spend money on education and law enforcement on the promise that a future governor and a future general assembly will give it back. And that's why it shows up as a simple credit on May 1 the following year.
And I have long been for responsible reductions in taxes that will affect the people that most need it. Making the system more progressive. Jim and I had a little debate the other night about whether Virginia was a high-tax state or a low-tax state. I said low tax and Jim said high tax. By the way, I found out that Gov. Allen goes around with a videotape touting Virginia is a low-tax state. But in any case, where Jim may be right is that we are a higher-tax state when it comes to people at the lower end of the scale. We don't have an earned income tax credit, we have sales tax on food, and our maximum rate kicks in at a pretty low level, $17,000 or $18,000. So if we're going to provide tax relief, those are the people that really need it.
First of all, Don's not being square with you about my plan. It is not going to cost $1.6 billion a year when fully implemented, it's going to cost about $650 million a year when it is fully implemented. And, second, he does not have a personal property tax reduction plan. He just doesn't. He has a plan instead to offer a tax credit on a very limited basis to a very limited number of people.
I don't honestly believe he intended to be as narrow as he was, but he came out and he did that and he's stuck with it so, yes, maybe he was intending to do that. But thousands, millions really, of Virginians are going to be left out of any opportunity to have any tax relief. And I don't want to do that. I want my plan to be a broad-based plan that will help a lot of people and really help the economy and jobs and that's what I intend it to do and that's what it will do.
The direct answer is yes. The growth of revenue is going to pay for our personal property tax cut phase-in, there's no doubt about that.
We have looked at what reasonably can be expected over the next four years of the administration and a very responsible estimation is $5.5 billion, that's really not that far off from even Don's own estimates that he's put out. $5.5 billion is what we anticipate from that. We were doing the planning before we ever came out with any type of announcement, we looked at what our priorities were going to be. You can hold this budget intact within this framework. You can grow this budget by the rate of inflation. You can also make the essential first priority investments in education that I intend to make, the New Century College program, the plan that I have to put 4,000 additional teachers into the schools.
You can do these things and you can set aside a portion of this growth in order to invest it back in the people of Virginia so that they can do something with their own families. We can do this, and we will.
Now I framed it this way, but I could have done this lots of different ways, just in order to try to get more votes. But I didn't. We framed it responsibly within the parameters of what we know is going to be reality. We did do the $20,000 which [a reporter] was asking about. Why not just simply say all cars everywhere, all the time, no matter what? Because this isn't the way that you frame a plan to help the maximum people to actually eliminate personal property tax on 90 percent. That's really what you do. Why not just eliminate a phased-in? Because you had to have a phased in. Because the growth of revenue is going up and you have to be prepared to take advantage of that. You have to do it and you have to start small and then end it in the fifth year or 100 percent.
And welfare reform, we had tremendous opposition in the legislature on welfare reform. And we did it anyway.
And I'm confident that if we put this plan forward and it's workable and it's something that we can do and we explain it carefully to the people and they're behind us on this, the Democrats in the General Assembly are going to want to do this because it's good for the people and, just like the last time, they will get on board and they will do what's right.
Let me just point out, I'm not, you know, a lobbyist. But they're there to do more than represent local tax collectors. They're there to represent local government leaders of all kinds, VML... . They are the ones who collect the tax, they are the ones who spend that revenue on schools and law enforcement and you know it's commonly understood they have the most credible estimates of the amount of money that's going to be raised.
But I do think that Jim in his soliloquy gets to the heart of the difference between the visions that we have for Virginia's future. To the credit of his signs and ads, the centerpiece of that campaign is personal property tax relief. It's going to gobble up the lion's share and more of Virginia's growth.
If you believe the VMLBaker(?) number, it will take more money than they actually grow, but even if you take Jim's numbers, that the lion's share. For me I think a much nobler, more businesslike, deeper investment is in the quality of our schools. Four thousand teachers is not a horrible idea, but I would also like to see us have much higher teacher standards. We've got many, many cases of teachers way below the standards they should be at. That has to be coupled, I think, ith a professional teacher certification board, like the Bar and Medical Society, and with a real commitment to more money for teachers to attract and retain.
For seven years we've fallen behind the national average. I was in [Clifton Forge?] on Thursday night and the deputy school superintendent asked me if I had any idea how hard it was to attract a teacher to come to the Alleghany Highlands for $22,800 a year.
We need a much better ratio of computers to students. We're on track now for 1 to 5 by the year 200. Japan will be at 1 to 1 in 1998. I've not met a technology leader or my friends in Northern Virginia that thinks 1 to 5 begins to be sufficient for the kind of future that we--
I committed very clearly in the March announcement speech and in the 1995 campaign when I worked so hard for the General Assembly members that we need one teacher for every 15 students in every case it was (?) in the Commonwealth of Virginia. That's about a thousand new teachers and that's a very specific, concrete commitment that changes the nature of the way public education works.
One thing that doesn't show up much on TV ads is we have a million Virginia adults who didn't finish high school. South Side Virginia, they're struggling with tobacco and the loss of manufacturing jobs, has 43 percent of its adults without a high school degree. In the two highest unemployment counties in Virginia, Buchanan and Dickenson, it's 60 percent plus without a simple high school diploma. So a key piece of my vision is to make sure that we take a quarter of a million Virginians to their GED.
Jim said that I backed away from the master spending plans, well I haven't because after [reporters'] article, the big spending plans I talked about then are still very achievable in the budget I've laid out. And most expenses, the $410 million new dollars for attracting and retaining the best teachers.
But context two is we do have a responsibility to fix it. The good news is that we'll build $4 billion worth of new school buildings in the next five years. The bad news is that it's commonly understood to be about $2 billion short.
I've resisted a short-term fix which is as a gubernatorial candidate standing up and saying, ... 'I'll put a hundred million new or three hundred million new or whatever it is, in school buildings.' John Battle did that in January 1950, $45 million, the only governor that's ever done it. But that's a one-time, small investment that's not going to begin to address the structural challenge that you have. Far more leadership is to recognize that it has always been a local government responsibilty, there's no political will to change that. And we need a governor who will work closely with the legislature and local government to make sure they have the tools they need, the structural tools they need, to fix this problem at the local government level.
And Gov. Allen, in a small way, did something this year that wasn't unimportant, which was in this budget to authorize the borrowing of up to a billion dollars more using the state's credit for local government infrastructure. Essentially, if local governments had a credit card, he'd bump their credit limit. Didn't give 'em the ability to make principal and interest payments but gave them more authority. That's a small tool. A larger tool is looking at the imbalance, as I did for a number of years as chair of that commission, between local government responsibilties and local government revenue authority.
Don Beyer has never explained how he's going to fully fund what he plans to do immediately, which is the subject of his television advertising, which is saying, 'Gee, I'm going to give $250 back to you next year, which is inviting for people to believe they're going to get $250 back next year. But the money is not there to do that out of the surplus. Most of that money, over $100 million, has to go into the rainy day fund. So right now that money is not there to do that.
With my phase-in you can do that with available funds because we are taking advantage of a smaller fund starting and then taking advantage of the out years. The importance of this is that Don Beyer's trying to focus people on this next year, and he's trying to get them to ignore the out years when we go far beyond $250 for a family.
He's comparing, by the way, my numbers on family versus his numbers of individuals and vice versa. But the point is he's trying to get them to not look at that. But the truth is that we are going to, over the five-year period, really do something meaningful for people in tax relief. As far as the infrastructure goes, we're going to be able to move ahead now on these 4,000 teachers. I've heard a lot of people say, 'Well, how are we going to do that on infrastructure issues and so on? And I'll come directly to the answer to your question but we can take these 4,000 teachers, there are some classes out there that are available in Virginia in order to be able to use these, in the elementary schools the teachers have told me that they're able —- and I've seen for myself that they're able, sometimes with team teach where you take one group in one part of the room and another in another part of the room, particularly in the earlier grades you can do that.
If they're going to be used for remedial reading you can go to multipurpose rooms, you can go in the library and do that. And, quite frankly, I have an African-American friend who I think expressed it as eloquently as anybody I've ever seen. He said, 'You send me the teachers and I can do this.' It's a matter of scheduling, it's a matter of getting it done, and I've already started thinking about how I'm going to do this in order to implement that.
But the direct answer to your question is that the literary(?) fund, the school construction fund for Virginia, ought to be a viable way for localities to be able to get some of the capital that they need, to get the capital they need to be able to construct. That fund has been raided in the past, it's been reduced in value. I have been pouring money into it as attorney general of this state on national settlements and fines and collections. I'm going to tell you the figure's at least $25 million that I've put into it. And I believe that we ought to have that as a very viable fund, so that localities can borrow at low rates. Because of the reduction of those funds sometimes they have to wait too long, I don't think they ought to be in a position to have to wait too long and we ought to be able to make that money available to them to be able to construct.
There've been articles in the paper about that, just in the last several days. But I am not going to deviate from supporting the livelihoods of people that are working in this business; farmers who have been there for generations who are terrified and you know you can't really replace tobacco with another product and maintain the standard of living of those families that are on the farms. Dock workers down in Hampton Roads, 35 percent of the exports from Hampton Roads is tobacco.
I have an aspiration and a goal and a hope to get Virginia to the top 10 exporting states in America, and I believe we can do that with our pro-growth policies that we've put into place. But not if you begin to diminish our capacity to export there because of the elimination of this product.
And, finally, the manufacturing community in Richmond has a very serious problem, 12,000 people work at Philip Morris alone. And these were on my mind. These people were on my mind. I felt it was my duty as attorney general of the state to look after the interests of these folks.
There are two major ways that the federal government subsidizes tobacco farming. The first was the allotment system, the price support, and the second was crop insurance. Now if I look at it as a Virginia leader looking at family farms, I don't want to see either of those programs ended. If you're going to end crop insurance, if you're going to end price allotments, the allotment system and price supports, you're just going to drive them out of business overnight. And it's not right and it's not fair.
One of the other big differences between Jim and me right now is our respective supports for the tobacco settlement. I think it's a win-win for Virginia because the settlement that's now being debated on the Hill gives us the opportunity to recognize, once and for all, the very deleterious effect of tobacco on kids. It institutionalizes all those FDA regulations in federal law, but it also provides some stability in the business climate for Philip Morris. You know you're not going to have a lot of law suits, you're not going to have wildly fluctuating stock prices. And additionally it gives us at least the option of the final piece.
The settlement, as it stands right now, has $8 billion that goes to localities, to individual states. Virginia typically gets a 40th of that, which will be $200 million. And I think we should direct a significant part of that $200 million to the tobacco growing community, to Danville, to Martinville, to South [Side]. There are a lot of ways it can go to those communities, industrial parks, adult education for all these undereducated, that 43 percent that didn't finish high school. And directed at the farmers.
There's a fascinating project in Berea, Kentucky, put together by tobacco farmers, to use the settlement money to buy back allotments, to take the average tobacco farmer, on a voluntary basis, out of the tobacco-farming business. I can't independently verify this, but one of the tobacco farmers from the Concerned Friends of Tobacco said that in Virginia the average tobacco farmer is 57 years old, and they're not getting the next generation to come on board in a lot of cases. So they're looking at that allotment as the critical way that they're going to survive the rest of their lives.
If there's an alternative, and if there's $200 million on the table to provide an alternative, you may find the right way to help individuals in the tobacco-growing communities survive the great ruckus(?) that tobacco's in on a national level and an international level.
But with respect to--
But in any case, you know, I'm sorry your question...
And I believe that's one more reason why we need to keep pace with our sister states. Maryland has cut taxes just in the last year, they've cut taxes because they understand that they're not as competitive as they ought to be with Virginia and Maryland and those of you who live in Maryland I think would probably have that sense. North Carolina has cut taxes because they understand that we need to make sure that jobs that would otherwise come to them don't go to Virginia. We can't just stop, we have to keep pace.
I believe over 20 states have reduced taxes in the last several years. Virginia has been beat by the Democrats who beat back tax cuts every year in Virginia and they're going to rapidly make us, put us in a position where we're not going to be competitive.
But in any case, if we do what you suggest and the hope that you have for the future, then we go have to grow this economy and it has to grown in a balanced way. But that doesn't mean that we just simply target people who are growing tobacco in the South Side or people who are working throughout this business everywhere in the state and just eliminate their ability to have a livelihood. You do strongly enforce against teenage and underage smoking.
BEYER I think it was Allen's article a while back that was headlined in The Post, 'It's What we Know, Rather Than What We Grow.' And I think we really have to make a deep commitment to the burley(?) growers in Southwest Virginia and the bright leaf growers in South Side to give them economic alternatives. To greatly pump up the system of higher education and K through 12.
It's interesting that Jim talks about North Carolina and I can't remember exactly what tax decreases Jim [unintelligible]. But there's an enormous difference in what North Carolina's doing versus Virginia in terms of investment in education. We are 44th in the nation and our funding for students for higher eductation, they are eighth. We're now down to the fifth highest tuitions in the nation, they're the second lowest in the nation. They're doing a lot more in transportation than we're doing in Virginia. And that's going to make a big difference in terms of the economic vitality we have in the years ahead.
Jim's talked about 250,000 new jobs, that's slower than we're growing right now in Virginia. That seems a minimalist goal. But I think it's important to look not just at the number of jobs but at the quality of the jobs. South Hampton Roads is a great example for us right now. We had all these $22- and $25-an-hour jobs working at ... Newport News Shipbuilding and Metro that are gone. And instead we're replacing them with ... jobs that pay $6 and $6.50 an hour, 30 hours a week, no benefits.
We're getting in too many places in the state the wrong kind of transformation and I think as we look at the numer of jobs created it is equally important that we look at the system of education that we've put in place that's going to guarantee the jobs are created are good jobs. High incomes, benefits, that can really move Virginia forward.
And you know Roxanne has basically the equivalent of three degrees from the University of Virginia, so we you know we are committed to higher education in this state. And that's why I'm going to put together a higher education blue ribbon commission. The first thing I'm going to do. Remember when Gov. Allen came in he signed an executive order and started a commission immediately? I thought that set a good tone. And I want to follow that and the commission I want to put together on the very first day is blue ribbon higher education commission. And let's find out what it pays to be the very best and what it pays to achieve these goals. And to make sure that we are the very best in higher education.
When you look at the schools that we have here we have a lot to be proud of.
We have inherited from the previous administration the very high tuition in the state. Some have shown them to be in the, most have shown them to be in the top 10 in the country and some have even shown them to be as high as the top three in this country in tuition. And working people everywhere are having a hard time now figuring out how in the world they're ever going to send their kid to the public universities and colleges in Virginia. And something has to be addressed on that and that's why we should continue the freeze on tution.
But I do believe that we should grow state support at least by the rate of inflation and I think you'll find that that will bring it more back into balance as time goes on and you know when tuitions went up and state support did not go up under the previous administration it did create an imbalance that leads to the kind of statistics that are being tossed around.
But also don't forget my New Century Scholar College program. And I put that out over a year ago. It was carefully considered and carefully understood so that we could be sure that we could pay for this in a proper way and meet our other priorities as well. And I think it's going to be a very good program for giving families and children the opportunity to look forward to incentive programs where they can work and go to college. And it's a major contribution to higher education in the state.
There's nothing wrong with a higher education commission, I would point out that John Chichester who is the Republican co-chair of Senate Finance has just finished a multi-year higher education commission report. We know what we need to do. Faculty salaries fell from [65? 55?] percent when I took office all the way down to 30 percent on a national scale. Thirty percent on the national scale, 1 to 100 and an index of 30 in terms of -- it's begun to turn around.
We've announced $280 million with the new need-based scholarship-- to fully fund the Virginia guaranteed assistance program which is merit and need, to increase the need based only Commonwealth scholarships and 35 percent of the need and 60 percent of the need, all around the principle that if you're a young person in Virginia, with the ability and the motivation to go to higher education, you shouldn't be turned away because you can't find the money to go.
There again, it's a difference in vision about the future. I am very committed to move from that 44th in the nation up significantly and not just by the rate of inflation. Tim Sullivan at William and Mary says that he's lost 25 senior faculty in the last couple of years because of faculty salaries. And I want to ask about infrastructure from K to 12, we have another major unmet infrastructure need in higher education. Dormitories, science labs, athletic facilities and more that we have yet begun to grapple with and I hope at the end of my four years, because we have not done nearly as bold or comprehensive or expensive a car tax plan, that we will have couple of billion dollars more to invest in higher education in K through 12.
And again it gets back to I think what is the fundamental difference between us. On Jim's legacy, if he wins, there's going to be, and if he's successful with that Democratic legislature, it's going to be no car tax. And I want my legacy to be at the end of the four years a dramatically different set of investment in K through 12 and higher education that leads us in the direction of having the best schools in the country.
My vision for the state of Virginia is one of high-quality education, it's where I come from, it's what I've done. I went to the public schools in the state, so did Roxanne. We're the ones that came up through these public schools, and we want to see them the very best.
And now I think it's important to focus on what our legacy ought to be, which is high standards of learning. These have been criticized by Don Beyer but the fact of the matter is that we have to put in the high standards of learning and high standards of accreditation. We have to do that. And we have to make sure that we understand what the quality is within the schools and bring some accountability to the schools and for teaching. I think that's very important.
And I think that with respect to higher education, when I resolved the Trygon Blue Cross matter so that they would be in a position to become a stockholding company, I secured $175 million from that company and that was all the money there was for higher education in that last budget cycle. And I'm pretty proud of that and I have a very deep commitment to higher education. I think the commission is very important though, I think we ought to understand exactly what we need to do, let's hear from Tim Sullivan and let's him air this out and let other people talk about this, too, and let's find out what we need to do to be the best. We have quite a large system of education in Virginia right now. A lot of things that are going on. Community colleges. We have the three major urban universities, we have three flagship schools that are located in.... We have growing places everywhere that are trying new and innovative things.
There's just a lot to know about this and instead of discussing it anecdotally, we want to be the best, let's find out what it takes.
And as far as how we pay for it? I think it's time to recognize that Virginia's been put at a disadvantage for a long, long time. You know we're only getting 79 cents back on the dollar for every dollar we pay in Virginia. I guess that was all right when there weren't the people here years and years ago. The fact is that the Sun Belt now is where the people are, where things are growing and we're leading the nation and we should continue to. It's time for us not to be a donor state any more, we should be at least an evened-up state. And Sen. [John] Warner and I are working very hard together on this, Secretary Martinez and I are working very hard together on this. We've been in close consultation, Sen. Warner and I have talked a great deal about it and he's keeping me informed as to the progress that he's making and virtually every ... that we can see now is going to bring back additional millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars potentially in addition to the billion that we already know is going to be in place for new construction and maintenance over the next four- year term.
So I believe that you have to gather your resources in aggressively and I do think you have to make priorities and I think you have to do that from region to region and you have to find out what needs to be done,working with local officials and community leaders like the ones, even though I don't agree with all the business leaders in Northern Virginia on every issue, I certainly talk to them constantly. And I have respect for their views in many ways.
A; Not necessrily. It depends upon where you put it and how you design it. But if it does I believe that we have to get moving on it and get started on it.
Jim and I disagree on the national tests that John Warner voted for. The fourth grade reading tests and the eighth grade mathematics test. And I want Virginia schools to be the best in the nation and I don't know how we're going to do that if we're afraid to test Virginia's kids against the best from Texas and California and New York.
I think the biggest thing that he's been critical of me is my great concern about the Board of Education's plan to flunk schools that don't pass 70 percent of their kids three years in a row. And I reflect the concern of those legislators and leaders from the coalfields, from the inner-city urban areas, from poor rural Virginia that, once again, the map of those schools that flunk is going to be the map of poverty in Virginia. There will always be exceptions. There will be great superintendents or great principals who can make a difference school by school. But in general, what we're going to do is we're going to flunk the schools not with the worst principals or the worst teachers but with the poorest kids, which is then going to make it impossible to bring teachers in and very much more difficult to bring businesses there to locate. It's going to be a case of the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer.
But let me turn quickly to transportation. Yes, we're all for step 21, getting 95 percent our money in IHT makes a lot of sense. However, I think we should be suitably humble about how much money that is. $150 million is the common number used, $200 million is the highest I've heard over a four-year period of time. $50 million per year isn't bad per year. It just doesn't begin to step up to the enormous transportation gap that we have.
I think far more promising is getting state government leadership that actively involves the business community and the public-private partnerships. Parsons Brinckerhoff is just concluding a deal with the city of Chesapeake to build Route 168 to the North Carolina line four- lane divided. It's been a little windy two-lane road for years that drives North Carolina crazy and they're going to do it as a toll road in a public-private partnership with no more than 20 percent local funding. ICF Kaiser's got a consortium to build rail [redouts?] from West Falls Church to Dulles and beyond. Again, with no more than 20 percent public funding. Any time we can do that that frees an enormous amount of resources that can go to something else. And that's certainly the way we should look at building the western bypass.
I'm very much committed to the Western Bypass. I think we should do the eastern bypass first or at least first because it will make a greater difference on the Beltway, on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, on I-95 corridor and I would hope that the Western Bypass corridor decision is made sooner rather than later so that it goes farther east and that it specifically is there to serve the built community. And that's, I think, the piece of a discussion that's been missing for a long time. When we lay out all our big transportation projects rarely is it done in connection with some real thoughtfulness about land use planning.
Now reclaiming the under-utilized space in Alexandria, in Arlington, in Norfolk and Newport News and Petersburg and Fredericksburg and all those places in urban Virginia. Ed Rissie who many of you know insists to this day that we can accommodate all the growth in Virginia for the next 10 years in Virginia without turning over another spade of dirt if we just recommit ourselves to urban and suburban renewal.
Along that line, thinking outside the box, John Milliken when he was secretary of transportation, had put together a comprehensive telecommuting plan for Virginia. Now on a statewide basis 56 percent of Virginia's homes have computers. I don't know the Northern Virginia number but it's obviously much higher. If we can show the leadership at the gubernatorial level to get businesses to do one day a week at home, two days a week at home you dramatically change the resiliency and the capacity of the existing transportation system we have. We know in the state ... an initiative on strategic flex-time with all the major employers here in Northern Virginia. Again, you use the built system a whole lot better than we have.
Finally, Jim the other night was critical of my praise of Gov. [Gerald] Baliles saying that Jerry had raised taxes more than anybody in the last 20 or 30 years. I would challenge Jim. What road should we not have built in the last 12 years? And should we repeal the Baliles' tax increases? And should we give that money back to the citizens if it was a bad idea? Seems to me, I have not come out for any new tax increases in this campaign but I would have voted for the Baliles' tax increase in 1986. It was the right thing to do then and I think we have gained immeasurably because of that investment in our transportation system over the last 11 years.
But I think the other point that's very important is that charter schools were also offered, not $8 million, $30 million was offered to the people of Virginia in federal money and was turned down by the Democrats in the General Assembly on strictly ideological terms.
Public charter schools money was offered to Virginia and turned down. I would have accepted that money. I think we ought to have that tool on the table and be able to work with public charter schools and it wasn't done. It's not fair to say that after family life education or guidance counselors are going to be eliminated at the local level. These are local options that are available to the localities and furthermore if I put my 4,00 new teachers into the classrooms, when I'm planning to do that and I'm committed to do that, they're going to have additional resources so they don't have to make a decision between reading specialists and guidance counselors. I don't think they have to make that choice now.
In fact, they can make whatever mix they want to make in order, what works best for their locality. And I think that's exactly where that kind of decision ought to be made. And as for the standard he was talking about, it's disheartening to me. Liberal Democrats expect so little from people. They demand so little from people. To think that we're saying that a standard that says that a teacher must pass and educate 70 percent of their students and that's too high, is absolutely wrong. That's too low if anything.
We ought to demand that kind of activity and that kind of teaching and that kind of success out of our schools, it's exactly the kind of standard that we ought to be working towards here and succeeding in in Virginia.
But instead of just saying we're going to, everybody in this school is going to fail and everybody in the rich community is going to succeed. I'm going to do something about this. We're going to put 4,000 teachers into the elementary schools and give them some opportunity for remedial reading, if that's what they choose to do. And give them some ability to succeed. And as for some of these highway issues, the Allen-Gilmore administration has been innovative in working with public partner projects, public-private partnerships, in order to be able to bring some innovative approaches into transportation. We hadn't been doing that. We're very proud of the progress that we're making and the efforts that we've been making.
When you're going to have $5.5 billion in increased revenue over the last four years you cannot justify a tax increase on the people of Virginia. As much as people would like to be able to do that, you have to be measured and balanced in the approach that you're going to make. You have to set your priorities down, be square with the people of Virginia, and then do that. And we can and we will.
He did call Goals 2000 a future for child, but more to the point, is you said that Goals 2000 was just a piece for child, an older quote of yours in the middle of the Goals 2000 debate. We've thought that $8 million to buy 5,600 new computers which would make a real difference in kids' lives. I was on the phone every day with Dick Reilly's staff at the end of the General Assembly trying to make sure that Virginia could apply for that $30 million in charter school money. We haven't lost it. It hasn't been sent to other states. We'll have the ability to go right back.
And as we fashion charter school legislation we must remember Virginia's history. We must remember that we closed the public schools in Prince Edwards County in 1960, rather than allow black and white children to go together. Much of the political landscape in Virginia in the '50s and '60s is about massive resistance. They didn't integrate the black high school in Fairfax County out on Gallows Road until 1971 when Len Holton was governor of Virginia and I think it's extremely important that we do charter schools carefully, thoughtfully, so that it doesn't end up with the resegregation on any basis of Virginia's public schools. The president thinks we can do it, Dick Reilly thinks we can do it. The legislation last year was not clear to most people in the General Assembly did it. But I'm committed to working with Democrats and Republicans to make that happen this January.
I think the things that Ed Bursa wants for Virginia's future very closely overlap with what I hope to see. Ed, by the way, is not part of the Phil Hazel-Sid Dewberry wing of the Northern Virginia round table that insists that the next governor must raise taxes in order to meet our responsibilities.
It is much more about a very overt political agenda that includes family life education, the elementary guidance counselors and Goals 2000 and vouchers and national testing. Something that is very arguably the extreme ultra-conservative agenda on education in Virginia and America. That's what's at stake, not our faith. I'm more than willing to grant that Jim is a man of faith and a good Christian. I'm sure. I know I am. That's what motivates my involvement in politics to begin with.
Don Beyer responded in a state of the state address some years ago and condemned thoroughly the idea of any notion of public schools. If he has I suppose said from time to time that, I'm not sure he's ever said he's for charter schools until this morning. But you know, he comes in and says now I just don't know where he was when the General Assembly was knocking this down in the face of $30 million which we had to turn around. I don't know where that executive leadership was.
I'm not in the General Assembly. Don Beyer is. And the fact of the matter is that that thing was knocked down again in the face of a $30 million amount of money which did not come to Virginia, which should have gone to public schools. I think it's just wrong to use these kinds of scare tactics that are going used. The same kind of things that was done in 1989 against Eddie Dalton, the very same ads. The very same kind of ads that were used in 1993, the same kinds of ads that were used against Gov. Allen, the same kinds of ads were used against Sen. Warner and I just don't think the people of Virginia are going to buy this stuff. In fact I don't think you're going to buy this stuff. I just don't think you're going to buy it.
It's been around, the same kinds of scare tactics over and over again. Sid Berry supports me but I don't agree with him on many of these issues. And as far as Ed Bursoff, he's a great guy, but he's not the only one. The Wes group has given Don Beyer over $100,000 to this point, I think $110,000, they're big developers. And Dan Clemente and his PAC has given him over $130,000, I believe to this point and they're big developers. I've never suggested that Don Beyer, I don't know, tell me. Are you going to do what they want you to do in development? I doubt it.
Don Beyer would like to use scare tactics because you can't beat me in this election. So he has to put up a straw man that he can beat and I guess that's Pat Robertson. But the fact of the matter is that Pat Robertson and I don't discuss these kinds of issues. And the fact of the matter is that I have my own agenda for excellence in education and what I hope to achieve. So just be aware that I have put my positive and forward-looking agenda out and that is excellence in public education, 4,000 additional teachers and tax relief for the people of Virginia and a forward-looking approach for the state.
And my additional commitment that we could do and should do our ads together, but if you'll agree. And I think it would be good, certainly good for me, and personally and I think it would be good for the voters of Virginia. Let me also say, too, that Jim talks about scare tactics. I think that the ad that is most outside the pale in this campaign was the empty swing set ad that Jim ran the last couple of weeks where he suggests that Don Beyer doesn't care about your kids and wants your kids to be kidnapped and murdered. And that's so far beyond pointing about that Jim and Pat Robertson agree on vouchers, that
The question that, should we just eliminate that prospect altogether on some kind of plan that might be put together, and the answer is that it ought to be something that's on the table. But I do not have any sort of plan on that and to equate whatever his plan is with mine is false and misleading and dishonest. It's dishonest right now. And as far as the ad goes, what we're trying to say with that ad is this: It's fair game to say that Don Beyer voted in 1992 to let criminals out of prison early. It reflects an approach on law enforcement which does not understand law enforcement. It does not understand the people that I have put into the penitentiary for non-violent crimes or any other kinds of crimes. Because they have records and you have to put them in there. And if you let them go early they are a danger into the community and there are records where people have come out and committed these kinds of crime and we need to recognize that.
I pointed out a couple of times in the debate the other night that of much greater concern to me are the pedophiles, the child sex molesters, who were released after 30 days, 60 days, 6 months to go right back out and hurt people again. We're looking at the mandatory minimums today in the law and found that after the second offense they can get 5, 10, 20 years for things like taking indecent liberties with a minor. Jim will argue, and some commonwealth attorneys will say, that's just the way the system works. Well, it seems to me that this is a very positive moment in this campaign that maybe that's the way the system works, but that's not the way the system should work. We've got to really think about how we change it.
I chaired the commission on child sexual assault for many years, and there were many, many adults who were molested as children, many parents whose children were molested. It is the worst of crimes. These people who are getting back out after 30, 60 days, 6 months are going right back out to offend again and again and again. And I would very much look forward to working with Democratic and Republican general assembly leadership to find a much touger way to deal with these initial child sex offenders because every one that gets released, after a short time, is going right back out to hurt a lot more kids.
But I tell you, I do think that, you know, I have to say, you alluded a few moments ago to you know pedophiles and all that sort of thing, and everybody knows he held a very flamboyant press conference and listed 35 cases where as prosecutor I was supported to have let child molesters out or something of that nature. I want everybody to know here that that was a fraud on the people of the state. That's a fraud on the people of the state. Most of the cases were not even ... and sadly, and this is very sad, very sad, most of those references, many of those references in that press release, are going to leave a road map to child victims. That is exactly as a professional in law enforcement which you do not do.
And it demonstrates that Don Beyer does not understand law enforcement or protecting human beings with victims, particularly in this most sensitive area, the most difficult area of prosecution that you can do in law enforcement that you can do. I don't think Don Beyer wants children to be hurt. That's not even suggested with that ad. But I think what is suggested is this. That the results would be that children would be hurt, if Don Beyer's policies toward parole are followed in this next administration.
Backsliding on parole would let people out of prison or jail early. If that happens, and I'm only referring to the materials that he has put forward in this election in 1997. And I think those would be the results. As a professional I believe it. It's not what Don Beyer wants. It's what Don Beyer results of his approach would be because he is not experienced in matters of law enforcement.
And without being excessively critical of the 10 years as commonwealth attorney, that's what we need to fix. That's what we need to do as we look to the future, a vision of how do we protect our children. I was child advocate of the year here in Virginia. I have done an enormous amount of work on sex offender registry, two strikes and you're out for pedophiles, community notification and the like. I think this is an opportunity. This is a moment for us to come together and reform a system that lets pedophiles out to hurt people again and again and again.
I'm much more concerned, not about the reporters who I hope are far too responsible to chase down a child victim on the basis of an offender who's in the public record anyway. But I'm far more concerned about those offenders who because of a broken system have a chance to go back and hurt more kids and destroy more families.
And early childhood education for all the at-risk kids. And finally, augmenting the Balileses and Allens, those are the two sort of shining stars in terms of bringing big business to Virginia. Augmenting that with a real commitment to small businesses, especially the whole theme of economic justice. Twenty-one and 1/2 per cent of our population is African American, 16 or older. They own 4 percent of the businesses.
Women, coal miners, the new Americans who flood through Northern Virginia that are not yet anywhere in the economic mainstream. I want to be a business leader and a governor who's greatly expanding the real possibility for economic justice and opportunity. But I hope we'll talk about the last 25 days ... Jim can talk about his car tax and I'm going to talk about reasonable car tax relief for the people who really need it, by a much deeper commitment to the investments in Virginia. That'll make it look different when we leave office.
We do have different approaches on these important mainstream issues, on education, we are going to emphasize quality and standards and accountability for schools so that mothers and fathers and professional teachers can have the capacity to deliver excellence in education to children.
I believe that mothers and fathers that choose to send their kids to the public schools ought to be sure when they do that they're getting the very best that they can get there as opposed to any other alternative. And I believe that you do that by making sure there's safety within the schools and I have that record of achieving that in the General Assembly, efforts to try to protect teachers and kids and making sure that we are going to be 4,000 teachers into the classrooms in order to reduce class size.
That's very different from Don Beyer. Don Beyer said that he wants to raise teacher salaries to the national average. But yet the Washington Times came to him and said, 'What about the teachers in Northern Virginia, they already are paid above the national average?' His response was, 'Well, maybe they're not going to get the salary increase.' My goal is to make sure that the people of Northern Virginia share the same way that everybody else does in the state, with an opportunity to reduce class size and deliver quality.
And on tax cuts we are very, very different. We're going something that's going to be good for every Virginian and thereby good for jobs and growth and economic development and opportunity in the state. It gives everybody an opportunity to share and to benefit and be able to spend that money. I think that's better for the people of Virginia.
Don Beyer's approach is very different and it's an approach that eliminates over half the people of Northern Virginia from any opportunity to have any kind of tax cut. A million of the working poor who really need this desperately and could never apply under Don Beyer's plan. ... We have an opportunity here to go forward and do some really high-quality things for this state. But it does require a different approach. It requires accountability, vision, genuine opportunity for people. Continue this great economic growth that Gov. Allen and I have worked so hard to achieve. When we do that, I'm confident we're going to be the best state in America.
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