WITH ONLY A FEW seriously contested races on ballots around Virginia this year, the real action in November's election involves financial questions. Voters in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads have a historic opportunity not only to raise money for much-needed road and transit projects, but also to assert a new degree of local control over transportation decisions. Voters statewide also have a chance to cast a less groundbreaking but nonetheless critical ballot on two bond issues totaling more than a billion dollars. "Yes" votes would provide funds for expanding parks and open space and for building and renovating classrooms and other facilities at the state's public colleges and universities. Both deserve Virginians' strong support.
As Virginia's college-age population continues to grow, its higher education system is straining to keep up with the demand. Aging classrooms need restoration; new facilities must be constructed to accommodate growth. The $900 million higher education bond issue on the November ballot would provide funds for projects all over the state, including $80 million for work at George Mason University and $35 million for Northern Virginia Community College. The $119 million parks and recreation bond, meanwhile, would fund three new parks and 10 natural area preserves as well as provide for the expansion or upgrading of 19 existing public areas. With development continuing to gallop through the region, preserving open space is an urgent task. The gaping deficit in the state's budget means that without this borrowing authority, such needs will go unmet. Neither bond issue involves any new tax; both are sound investments in Virginia's future. It's worth a trip to the polls to support them.