Virginia Democrats will choose their nominee for governor in a primary Tuesday between former Lt. Gov. Henry E. Howell and former Attorney General Andrew P. Miller. Miller was interviewed on June 3 by Washington Post reporters and editors. A transcript of the interview follows. Because of space restrictions same answers have been shortened .
Q. You were among the most articulate and most outspoken in arguing before the legislature in the '76 session while you were attorney general that some limit ought to be placed on campaign spending. Money has flowed to your campaign in record amounts! Do you see any irony in that?
A: No irony at all. Actually it was 1975 when my staff prepared the legislation which would have established a $1,000 limitation on contributions to a campaign. At that time I had no idea what 1977 was going to bring. As a matter of fact it was a matter which went to the '76 session and during the course of the legislative debates, the limit was increased to $10,000, which of course of the legislative debates, the limit was increased to $10,000, which of course I did not regard as in keeping with the spirit of the original bill. I still feel there should be a statutory limitation on contributions. I would work in the 1978 session witht the General Assembly to have a $1,000 limit established.
Q: I've heard you many times in discussing the performance of state officers refer to the problem of salaries. Salaries are probably 80 per cent of the state budget. Are you going to undertake a major escalation of state salaries to attract better people, to be more competitive with federal government and private industry and if so, what impact is this going to have on your vision of the fiscal situation in the next biennium?
A: We have to solve first problems first. The first problem which in a report from the department of personnel and training last fall were identified as being areas where employees were being paid three and even four pay steps less than what individuals were getting in the private sector for a comparable job. Very frankly the personnel management in the Commonwealth of Virginia is going to be one of my major concerns as governor.
We do not have management training whichis worthy of the name in the state government now. We now have some 74,000 state employees and, as you know, we have authorized but not filled some 9,630 positions. You wouldn't operate in the private sector that way for very long because your competition would have run you into the ground. Once you've got a handle on the overall system, (you can) decide whether paying $15,000 to a person to do a particular job would mean that individual could replace two individuals who are presently doing the same job being paid $10,000 a year and obviously are considerably less competent in executing it.
One of the things that I am very interested in seeing is what can we do in Virginia to adapt the experience in other states of zero based budgeting and sunset legislation. Right now agencies and departments in submitting their budget exhibits concentrate on justifying the increase in what they asked and what they got the previous period. Under the zero base concept they're no longer going to be able to do that. They'll start from scratch.
Q: How are you going to respond to the continuing pleas, not only from Northern Virginia but Norfolk and Roanoke for additional taxing authority for localities?
A: I at the present time am not advocating new authority for local governments because I don't think that their homework has been done on the basis of which any such authority should be granted. The reason I say their homework hasn't been done is that at the present time there is not in state government a list that everybody agrees on of the mandated programs the General Assembly has required the localities to implement. At the present time when legislaton has passed the General Assembly its cost information does not accompany it. And in instance after instance legislation will be passed and no one knows when that legislation is passed precisely how much it's going to cost.
Q: What you're saying is you can't answer the policy questions because then information base isn't there?
A: I wouldn't make a legal decision without having done research, and by the same token as governor I'm not going to make a policy decision until I have the facts in hand as to what are going to be the long range benefits.
Q: What would be your priorities as governor - some of your chief objectives? You mentioned state employees.
A: Well that's in the management sense, but there are also some very important challenges in the program sense. And one of the important challenges, which is going to require an extraordinary amount of effort, is in coming up with a program for handicapped education statewide. There was a recent three-judge court decision which requires Virginia to come up with a program. Here we have this three-judge court decision requiring as of Sept. 1, 1978, that the state come up with a program and yet I'll be very frank with you, I do not see the effort within state government to devise an appropriate curriculum which I think a challenge of this magnitude requires. Fairfax County has made a very commendable start in this regard.
I will spend a great deal of my time on education matters because as attorney general with some responsibility in the justice area of the state, it's very easy for me to see what's happening in our society in terms of individuals who are going through a school system and not acquiring the basic skills. Individuals are dropping out of the school system without any vocational abilities and becoming involved in criminal activities.
Q: Let's suppose you win this primary and the choice is then between you and the Republican candidate John N. Dalton in November. What choice is that for Virginia voters? One that has anything to do with government philosophy at all or are we talking about which one can sell yourself best as th emanager for the state government out of two people whose government philosophies aren't terribly different?
A: That's an interesting observation. I would be surprised if Mr. Dalton's credentials as a manager, at least in the government area, were ones which he dwelt upon at any great length during the campaign. I think as far as what the lieutenant governor has done as lieutenant governor in terms of taking positions and espousing legislation, and what I did as attorney general, I think the comparison is clearly marked.
Q: You're telling us then that you see yourself in more of an activist role as governor than Dalton or even say Gov. Mills Godwin?
A: Well take a look at attorney general and what I did there those seven years. I think if you're going to do the job you can't sit back and react to problems. You're going to have to see that there's a problem that needs to be met and then decide how it's going to be met before it reaches crisis proportion.
Q: Many people from Northern Virginia feel alienated from the rest of the state. What do you tell Northern Virginians? Why should they elect you?
A: First of all, I was born in Northern Virginia. And as a consequence I have a better feel for this sectionof Virginia than anyone who's served in statewide office. (Gov.) Westmoreland Davis was the last person from Northern Virginia to serve in state office. He was elected in 1977. So it's been 60 years.
But I think there are certain specific things, seriously, which can be done to fill the communications gap which exists and perhaps to bridge it entirely. I certainly hope so.I think the executive branch of government needs an office in Northern Virginia for two purposes. First of all this office would serve as a point of contact for residents of Northern Virginia with the executive branch. That office would also have a different responsibility and that would be to maintain day to day liaison with the federal agencies and departments on behalf of the Commonwealth and also with our congressional delegation.
I feel that as far as citizens in Northern Virginia go, practically 25 per cent of the population in the state is in the 8th and the 10th congressional districts. There needs to be greater representation from Northern Virginia on the commissions of state government. In the course of Gov. Godwin's present term he's made 2,500 or 2,600 appointments, or will have made by the time he goes out of office the end of the year. I would be very much surprised if even 9 or 10 per cent of those were from Northern Virginia.
I have also proposed, for example, the establishment of a separate department of transportation, to take that out from under the department of highways. Also the creation of a new Northern Virginia construction district instead of having this area be part of the Culpeper construction district as far as roads are concerned. You can't do a proper job at that distance, particularly with the number of people involved.
Q: In seeking to attact industry to Virginia would you emphasize the right-to-work law?
A: The division of industrial development needs to be more aggressive than it has been in the past. We have to come up with say 44,000 new jobs a year in Virginia and over the next 10 years. That's almost a half a million new jobs in the state. How do you keep the unemployment rate reasonably low? And that's an enormous challenge. Obviously the governor does have to get involved in that . I think if you look at the statistical analysis of growth in the states which have a right-to-work law as opposed to those who don't, obviously there's been a substantial growth rate, in those states with a right to work law.
Q: What is the difference between you and Henry Howell? What's the implicationof this race? How do you draw a distinction between the candidates?
A: I think there's a significant difference in style between us. I'm not going to get involved in responding to the type of rhetoric which was engaged in during the last several weeks. But I do think it's a legitimate question to ask whether the citizens of Virginia want to have anybody in that office who engages in that type of rhetoric.
As far as the experience which I've had as attorney general I think it's going to be invaluable during the next four years because I've represented state agencies and I know the strengths and weaknesses with those departments, not only where programs are concerned, but also as far as personnel. I think as far as the legislature goes if Virginia is going to be moved forward in the direction in which I would like to see it in terms of having a very competent, sensitive state government, that the teamwork with members of the General Assembly is something that a governor has to recognize and has to spend a great deal of time on. I think that I wou ld have the ability to work with Democratic majorities in the Senate and the House of Delegates I mentioned earlier which would be the agenda for the next legislative session.
Q: How deeply segregated do you think Virginia society is and to what extent should the government seek to intervene to change that?
A: Of course I know you have a perception that it is deeply segregated. And it's not a perception which I share. Nor is that perception one which I have for the future in Virginia. As far as government is concerned government can and should do more than simply say, 'Well we're not discriminating.'
I'm going to have an administration which is representative of the entire Virginia community. I think that what government can do by example has a profound inflence on the thinking of constituencies. And, hopefully, as a result of these intitatives at the end of my administration you'll change your perception as to Virginia society.