FROM NOW UNTIL Tuesday, Virginia's voters have their work cut out for them. It is not enough that they will have to sort out their preferences for statewide office and representation in the General Assembly. In addition, on election day they will be asked to decide important state and local questions on bond issues. Unlike candidates, bond issues don't shower you with promises - but they have, nontheless, an expensive look about them. So the initial impulse of today's taxpayers may be to reject them out of hand. But as a distinguished and unusually bipartisan group of Virignians will tell you in support of five state bond issues on the ballot, the construction projects sought through these proposals are best financed in this manner.
Indeed, Gov. Mills E. Godwin - hardly your reckless spender - has been leading a vigorous campaign for approval of all five proposals. It's one issue on which Mr. Godwin and the two major-party nominees for governor - Democrat Henry Howell and Republican John N. Dalton - agree. Not only are the bond issues earmarked for absolute needs, the governor notes, but moreover a bond issue will help avoid a tax increase. The bonds would replace $125 million from the state's general tax revenues and thus reduce the pressure for additional taxes, Gov. Godwin points out.
We agree. It isn't as if Virginia were on the road to fiscal ruin by debt, either: The state has paid off more than $41 million of $81 million in its first general obligation of this century, which voters approved only nine years ago. And additional borrowing would be subject to approval by the General Assembly and the voters, as these five proposals are.
Fairfax County Supervisor Marie B. Travesky, who is serving as county coordinator of "Virginians for Bonds," emphasizes the importance of approving all five proposals as a "fair means of cost-sharing in that future citizens help pay for the facilities from which they, too, would benefit." Colleges, universities and the community-college system would receive about 69 per cent of the bond funds. These facilities are necessary to accomodate the growing number of people who are deciding to continue their education in the state. The State Council on Higher Education estimates that the number of students in Virginia's colleges and universities will increase by 28 per cent by school year 1987, and that the number of students in community colleges will increase by 43 per cent.
The second largest share of the bond proceeds is designated for the correctional system. While the state has been encouraging development of community-based facilities, a large number of offenders will still need greater security and supervision. The remaining 13 per cent of the bond issue would provide for the construction of mental-health and mental-retardation facilities, the development of park and recreational facilities and improvements in Virginia's ports.
As always, the Fairfax County Taxpayers' Allianced would have you believe that to say "no" is to save money, that somehow the state doesn't need the projects that the governor as well as the General Assembly have concluded are vital. Not so: the bond proposal constitutes a sound business proposition, far better than a pay-as-you-go, delay-as-you-pay-more approach. The smart money, then, should go for approval of all five state bond issues on the ballot.
Also important in Northern Virginia are local bond-issue questions that will be on the ballots in Arlington County and in Loudoun County.
In Arlington , there are five local bond proposals. One is to increase storage facilities, which would provide for short-term water emergencies and breakdowns in the water-supply system. Another bond issue is sought for storm drainage: and one is for building and improving roads, bike paths, curbs and sidewalks. A fourth proposal would provide funds for the county's innovative neighborhood conservation program. And a fifth bond issue is for the acquisition and development of park land. These are all modest proposals that deserve the support of prudent voters.
In Loudoun , there is a $1.9-million bond issue proposed to renovate county buildings for courthouse uses, as sought by the judges for some six years. The issue includes $80,000 for a parking lot for the public (not for county employees) and funds to provide office space for court-related functions. Certainly some improvements are necessary and though voters may prefer to put off this plan and run the risk of higher costs or an increase in the tax rate (or both), county officials see the bond issue as a reasonable way to respond to the court's needs now.