Virginia Lt. Gov. Richard J. Davis, a Democratic candidate for governor, today unveiled a 68-point position paper on a broad range of issues, including support for a referendum for voters to decide whether to establish a state lottery.
Davis, who has strong support from organized labor, also said flatly for the first time that he opposes "meet and confer" legislation that would allow state employes, now barred from negotiating working conditions, to have a formal say in how their agencies are run.
For Northern Virginia voters, Davis pledged support for the completion of the 101-mile Metro system, a rail system to Dulles International Airport and revision of the state's complex highway funding formula to give more money to congested urban areas in the state.
Davis' early release of his position papers -- six months before the state's Democratic Party Convention -- and his conservative positions on fiscal issues were seen as attempts to set the agenda for his race against Democratic state Attorney General Gerald L. Baliles and to blunt criticisms that he has an overly liberal image.
Davis, 63, is considered the frontrunner in the contest with Baliles, who is scheduled to announce his candidacy on Tuesday.
A former mayor of Portsmouth, Davis said he would support lifting a cap on the amount that local governments can spend on their own roads, a proposal favored in Fairfax County. He also said the state should abolish the so-called Dillon rule, which says localities may not enact legislation applicable to areas the legislature has not expressly granted them permission to govern.
Davis also said he opposes proposed uranium mining and a coal slurry pipeline for Virginia because too many business and environmental questions are unanswered, and that he opposes additional nuclear power plants in the state.
Regarding various proposals for state-supported lotteries that have consistently failed in the General Assembly, Davis said, "If the time comes when the commonwealth needs to have additional revenue, I think that a state lottery should be considered."
Davis, who narrowly lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in 1982, released his report during a news conference in which he restated his personal opposition to Virginia's death penalty but pledged to uphold the law and not try to change it.
Davis said improving secondary and college level education would be his first priority as governor. But he declined to support a proposal for a one-cent increase in the state's sales tax to provide money for education.
"The Davis blueprint concentrates on setting firm policy priorities and meeting those objectives within Virginia's budgetary resources," he said. However, he declined to rule out a tax increase if one became necessary and said he had not yet put a price tag on his proposals.
Davis added that the upcoming legislative session, which opens Wednesday, may result in actions that could affect his overall package.
Davis called recent escapes and disturbances at Virginia's prisons "shocking" and said he supports higher salaries, better training and improved equipment for guards, issues certain to be addressed by the legislature this year.