Sunday, October 18, 2009

Substance over Style -- Post Endorses Deeds

A LEGACY of sound policies, coupled with the proximity of the federal government, has partially protected Virginia from the harsh retrenchments that the recession has forced on many states.

Yet the commonwealth faces a daunting crisis in the form of a drastic shortfall in transportation funding, measured in the tens of billions of dollars, that threatens future prosperity.

If the current campaign for governor has clarified anything, it is that state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee, has the good sense and political courage to maintain the forward-looking policies of the past while addressing the looming challenge of fixing the state's dangerously inadequate roads.

The Republican candidate, former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell, offers something different: a blizzard of bogus, unworkable, chimerical proposals, repackaged as new ideas, that crumble on contact with reality. They would do little if anything to build a better transportation system.

There are plenty of reasons why Mr. Deeds is the better choice for governor in the Nov. 3 election. He has stood with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the incumbent, and his predecessor, now-Sen. Mark R. Warner, in support of the sane fiscal and budgetary choices that have made the state one of the best-governed and most business-friendly in the nation. Mr. McDonnell has generally spurned those policies, most notably by opposing Mr. Warner's landmark tax package in 2004, which attracted bipartisan support as it boosted public safety and education and protected the state's finances. Mr. Deeds has compiled a moderate record on divisive social issues that reflects Virginia's status as a centrist swing state. Mr. McDonnell has staked out the intolerant terrain on his party's right wing, fighting a culture war that seized his imagination as a law student in the Reagan era.

But the central challenge facing Virginia and its next governor is the deficit in transportation funding projected at $100 billion over the next two decades -- and only Mr. Deeds offers hope for a solution. Following a road map used successfully in 1986, he would appoint a bipartisan commission to forge a consensus on transportation funding, with the full expectation that new taxes would be part of the mix.

Mr. McDonnell, by contrast, proposes to pay for road improvements mainly by cannibalizing essential state services such as education, health and public safety -- a political non-starter. And rather than leveling with Virginians about the cost of his approach, as Mr. Deeds has done, Mr. McDonnell lacks the political spine to say what programs he would attempt to gut, or even reshape, in order to deal with transportation needs.

Read the entire endorsement:


Bubby said...

In fact Mr. Deeds -- a decent, unusually self-effacing man who calls himself "a nobody from nowhere" -- has a compelling life story and an admirable record of achievement as a legislator from rural Bath County.

But can he prevail against the haircut from Virginia Beach?

And rather than leveling with Virginians about the cost of his approach, as Mr. Deeds has done, Mr. McDonnell lacks the political spine to say what programs he would attempt to gut, or even reshape, in order to deal with transportation needs.

But,but, Mark Obenshain told Bob that there was gold in the ABC stores!

Mr. McDonnell has inspired a worthwhile debate over privatizing liquor sales in Virginia, one of 18 states that control the wholesale and retail trade in spirits. But by suggesting the state could use the proceeds of privatization as an ongoing funding source for road improvements, he has played fast and loose with the facts -- first by plucking projected revenue figures from thin air and second by glossing over the question of what state services he would cut if the $100 million currently gleaned from annual liquor sales could be diverted for transportation.

We'll audit VDOT (one more time) and squeeze funds from that turnip!

Wallace H. said...

Do you have any more information regarding McDonnell's lack of proper review of the VITA contract?

Bubby said...

Yeah Wallace, I'm tracking this VITA government privatization contracts thing closely.

As you may know, the Northrop-Grumman contract was the largest contract that Virginia has ever awarded - $2.3 billion. NG was able to negotiate some spectacular terms with the Commonwealth. This was such a colossal experiment in privatization that you would think our Attorney General would have negotiated better provisions should the experiment not deliver the cost savings that were promised. I mean, after all, Northrop Grumman was getting exclusive rights to Virginia's IT spending!

Actually, that isn't entirely accurate. There is another player here - CGI AMS a software contractor got a $300 million contract and is also failing to deliver.

My general sense is that Virginia bought into the notion that private industry can do everything better than government agencies can do them, and never bothered to question that assumption...until the bill came due. Which is when you need a contract with an protective exit strategy.

Anonymous said...

Bubby the past two governors have been Democrats why haven't they fixed the problems ?