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 is most in need of legislative attention?
Bernard S. Cohen (D), Incumbent, 48, of 4001 Fort Worth Ave., Alexandria, an attorney and businessman, was elected to the House in 1979 and was named outstanding freshman delegate. He serves on Courts of Justice, Claims, Health, Welfare and Institutions committees and chairs the subcommittee on rights of the terminally ill.
Issue: The cuts and withdrawal of federal funding for programs for the elderly, students, the handicapped, the poor, the unemployed, small business, highways and public transit will present challenges to the Commonwealth unlike any it has had in more than 40 years. We will be confronted with enormous pressure to maintain and fund many of these programs. It will take a combination of good business sense and compassion, fiscal responsibility and humane sensitivity to respond properly to the challenge.
Budget: I have reservations about an across-the-board 5 percent cut; however, given the time constraints, the shortfall of revenues, the sluggish economy and the difficulty of restudying thousands of budget items, a plan which allows agency heads several months to plan the 5 percent cutback seems to be a practical solution.
Problem: Northern Virginia has constantly had to face two major problems: transportation and housing. Needed highway repairs are not being made because of gasoline tax revenue shortfalls. Public transportation frequently receives less than is needed (except for last year's very successful Metro funding). Affordable rental housing in Alexandria is in short supply and the state tax structure needlessly forces up local taxes on our homes and condominiums.
Elizabeth C. (Betty) McCann (R), 53, of 4547 Seminary Rd., Alexandria, is president of B&BMc Corp., a computer services firm. She has 25 years of experience as a congressional legislative aide. She has served on the state Republican Central Committee and is a member of Alexandria Republican City Committee. She is active in local civic and professional groups.
Issue: The threat of runaway medical and health care costs. My opponent has proposed legislation elminating the present $750,000 ceiling on malpractice court awards. He would extend liability to charitable hospitals and other health care providers, and increase the statute of limitations requiring costly storage of records for extended time periods. The public can only be hurt by these proposals. Medical and associated health care costs are accelerating at a far greater rate than other costs in the economy. If doctors, nurses, hospitals, opticians, etc., are forced to pay higher premiums to meet threatened multimillion dollar suits -- the obvious result of this legislation -- the only beneficiaries will be the plaintiff lawyers. My opponent is a former president of the state trial lawyers association.
Budget: I have not had an opportunity for close study of the governor's proposed cuts. In general, taking steps to make cuts now rather than waiting until December reflects sound Republican fiscal policy. I am not convinced that 5 percent across-the-board cuts, with exceptions in the people-serving area, are the answer. I feel the General Assembly should look carefully at line items in all state agency budgets with a view to eliminating existing duplications and overlapping functions. If there is waste to be found, the General Assembly should be finding it to meet the estimated shortfall in fiscal 1983.
Problem: The Northern Virginia population, and the 46th Legislative District in particular, is increasingly over 55 and retired or facing retirement. I have testified before the General Assembly in support of legislation to relieve our senior citizens of some of the tax burden they carry into retirement. Specifically, I have supported legislation to exempt from state income tax the first $6,000 of income of those 65 or older. This legislation would extend to federal civilian and military retirees the same exemption now enjoyed by retired state employees, railroad workers and Social Security recipients. Another possibility would be a $1,000 exemption for those over 65. Also in this general area, I would work for elimination of the repressive sales tax on food and prescription drugs.