2015 VCTA Interview

I was recently interviewed on VCTA Cable Reports. If you don’t have the time to watch the entire interview, here are some of the key points discussed:

Economy:
Northern Virginia’s economy is struggling. In large part this can be attributed to the federal government’s federal spending cuts and the sequestration. Our economy has become overly reliant on federal contracts. We need to diversify our economy by supporting the private sector and bringing innovative companies and industries into Northern Virginia.

Bills:
HB1445 seeks to provide medicinal marijuana to help people with intractable epilepsy, glaucoma or cancer. I want to emphasize that I am not attempting to legalize marijuana.
HB1499 seeks to give mothers the option to breast-feed on public property. This is already a law in 47 other states, even Texas!

Education:
The Composite Index of Local Ability to Pay determines how much state money goes to Fairfax schools. It costs much more to live and work in Fairfax County, so the Composite Index formula has a portion in it that sends more money to high cost of living areas. This is because we have to pay teachers and support staff more than other areas of the state. People outside of NOVA have tried to reduce the amount of money that goes to high cost areas by striking this out of the Composite Index. If this is done, we would lose a substantial amount of funding. But we won’t let them. My Northern Virginian colleagues and I (on both sides of the aisle) are working tirelessly to keep this factor a part of the equation.

Hot Lanes:
Some Virginians are upset by having to pay toll on the new beltway and 95 HOT Lanes. I wish the lanes were free, but that was not a viable alternative. The beltway lanes cost $1.5 Billion and the 95 lanes cost over $1 Billion. Virginia did not have that kind of money and we could not borrow it. So the only options were do nothing, raise taxes 12 cents a gallon on gas, or do it as a toll road. I never choose to do nothing, few people wanted to raise the gas tax, so we built these as a toll road. We decided to do it through a private company because we did not have the ability to borrow $2.5+ Billion. And if the tolls do not raise enough to fund the project, the private contractor has to pay the difference, not the Commonwealth of Virginia. The financial risk is completely on the company, not on the taxpayers.

If you would like to watch the full interview, here is the video:

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