Candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Issue: What do you believe is the most important statewide issue the 1983 General Assembly will confront?
Budget: What is your opinion of the Robb administration's budget cuts? Would you cut some programs more deeply and restore funds to others?
Problem: What Northern Virginia problem: What Northern Virginia problem is most in need of legislative attention?
Douglas E. (Doug) Brown (R), 30, of 3866 Havenwood Pl., Alexandria, is an accountant with a CPA firm. He has worked on the staffs of two members of Congress and was a special assistant on President Reagan's transition staff. He is coauthor of a series of handbooks on state government and the political process in the fifty states.
Issue: The single most important issue facing the General Assembly in 1983 is how Virbinia will respond to the changes in federal-state relationships and responsibilities being brought about by federal budget cuts and President Reagan's New Federalism proposals. I believe that it is going to be especially important for the legislature to carefully examine each program and proposed expenditure in order to make certain that they can be managed efficiently and that they are the most cost-effective methods of solving our problems and responding to the needs of our citizens. It is equally important that in accepting these programs, we do not add further financial burdens to the already overburdened taxpayers.
Budget: Under the circumstances, I believe that the Robb administration's across-the-board budget cuts were the most appropriate response. If Gov. Robb had made policy decisions regarding which portions of the state budget would receive unequal cuts, he would have overstepped his constitutional role and impinged on the responsibility of the General Assembly to make the final decisions regarding the allocation of state funds. The major concern that I have is that it was necessary for Gov. Robb to have to make any budget adjustments so short a time after the General Assembly completed its biennial budget review and adoption. The apparent inability of the legislature to base its burgetary decisions on realistic figures is a sad commentary on the state's leadership. Although I support Gov. Robb's action on this occasion, I believe that across-the-board budget cuts should generally be avoided. It is the responsibility of the General Assembly to determine which programs are most necessary and to fund them accordingly; making cuts in less important areas in order to achieve a balanced budget.
Problem: The Northern Virginia problem most in need of legislative attention is the current inequitable distribution of state resources. For every tax dollar our area sends to Richmond, we get gar less than that dollar back in state funds and services. Most of Northern Virginia's other problems, such as roads, education mass transportation and local taxes, are directly related to this skewed distribution of state funds. This inequity is perpetuated by the current Democratic leadership in the General Assembly. This "leadership" is composed primarily of downstate delegates who are unsympathetic to the problems and needs of Northern Virginia.Unfortunately, too often some Northern Virginia delegates put aside the best interests of our area in order to curry favor with their party's leadership. As a member of the House of Delegates, I will make fighting for Northern Virginia's fair share my highest priority, as a first step in the process of solving the many other problems that we face.
Gladys B. Keating (D), Incumbent, 59, of 5911 Brookview Dr., Franconia, a delegate since 1977, is on Corporations, Insurance and Banking, Counties, Cities and Towns and Militia and Police committees. She also represents Northern Virginia on the Science and Technology Committee of the National Council of State Legislatures.
Issue: Money! And how we cope with the federal cutbacks and diminishing state revenues. With at least a $170 million loss of federal funds and with revenues from the major sources of state income (sales tax and income tax) much lower than projected (because of the recession), the question we face is: Do the people of Virginia want us to maintain the present level of services, which means increased taxes, or do they want the present level of taxation, which means drastic cuts in all programs unless the economy turns around almost immediately? The cuts presently being made in the fiscal 1983 budget are a shakedown cruise and should provide valuable guidance. I believe that the state has a responsibility to the genuinely needy and to our elderly citizens who, having paid taxes for years, are now caught in a vicious inflation cycle.
Budget: Yes! I believe that Gov. Robb handled the budget cuts much better than Gov. Godwin did when faced with the same situation. More flexibility was provided for the agencies by imposing the cutbacks in June as soon as it was obvious that there would be a revenue shortfall, rather than by waiting until a midyear review when a greater percentage of their funds would have been expended. The exemption of some departments rather than imposition of a flat percentage cut throughout all departments was another plus. We are all great Monday morning quarterbacks so, in retrospect, I would not have imposed a hiring freeze on certain departments where specialized labor is a vital component of the department's ability to function.
Problem: Roads! The formula by which the money generated by gasoline taxes and user taxes is distributed must be revised. It is not fair to the citizens of Northern Virginia. We contribute about three times the percentage of taxes paid compared to the percentage of the secondary road funds we receive. Good secondary roads are vital to a workable balanced transportation system. And it is the secondary road situation here in Fairfax that exacerbates the nerves of our citizens. It is the tie-ups on Braddock, Van Dorn, Franconia and Keene Mill roads, that grate. Fairfax voters have shown their dedication to the solving of those situations and others by their approval of the road bond referendum last year. It is up to the General Assembly now to reform the method by which the highway funds are distributed.