McAuliffe Releases Plan to Invest in Virginia’s Urban Centers
September 23, 2013
Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe released his plan to strengthen Virginia’s cities, “Investing in Virginia’s Urban Centers,” on Monday. McAuliffe’s plan focuses on the challenges that face Virginia’s most populous areas, such as access to quality education, healthcare, and protecting voting rights.
“Our cities are home to innovative small businesses and a growing number of families and young Virginians, and they are increasingly becoming centers of commerce for our Commonwealth and across the nation,” said McAuliffe. “As governor, one of my top priorities will be to strengthen our urban centers, so they can continue to grow and prosper.”
Investing in Virginia’s Urban Centers
Terry understands that the challenges and opportunities facing different parts of the Commonwealth vary significantly. In Virginia’s cities, questions regarding education, healthcare, and voting rights loom large. As governor, Terry will put forward policies that will help our cities grow and prosper.
Education is the single most important thing we can support to build strong Virginia cities and begin to close the achievement gap. By making sure that students in our urban schools get the tools they need to build successful lives, we ensure the future of the Commonwealth’s most populous areas. Whether our students are going to invent new products, start their own businesses, or get the jobs of their dreams, a successful future starts with the basic skills and confidence that only a good education can provide, and right now we’re not doing enough.
a. Reforming the SOLs
We must have a strong system of student achievement and teacher evaluation. Unfortunately our current system isn’t working for parents, students, or teachers. The current Standards of Learning tests have created an environment with an over-emphasis on drilling students to take one-time, multiple-choice tests. There is no question that teachers must be held accountable through fair, multi-dimensional means, and that we need to ensure that students are learning what we want them to know, but we can do a better job.
b. Keeping College Costs Low
We must absolutely do all we can through financial aid and proper support of our community colleges and four-year schools to keep a college education within reach for all Virginians.
c. Innovation in Education
We need to find more creative ways to ensure all Virginians receive a quality education. Partnerships with businesses and community colleges, emphasis on STEM and Computer Science, and increased flexibility for our school districts will all help bring our schools into the 21st century.
d. Supporting our Schools
Over time, the Commonwealth has reduced state investment in our schools, which has shifted the burden to local school districts. We need to stop the erosion of our schools’ financial foundations.
e. Restoring the Standards of Quality and fully funding them
In recent years, economic hardship forced our leaders in Richmond to look for budget balancing strategies that led them to undermine the standards of quality, our curriculum and standards for school services. It’s time to restore those standards and make sure our schools have the tools they need to get the job done.
f. Attracting and retaining the best teachers
Our teachers have seen their salaries and benefits decline significantly, in real terms, over the past several years. Paying our teachers properly is the only proven way to attract and retain the highest quality educators.
g. Increasing support for Pre-K and early childhood education
Every young Virginian deserves access to the benefits of an early childhood education.
2. Protecting Voting Rights
Our citizens are disenfranchised when they cannot cast their ballots without fear of intimidation or expensive hurdles. As Governor, Terry McAuliffe will fight for the right of every citizen to be heard and will oppose efforts to make it harder for Virginians to vote.
a. Oppose Voter ID laws
Laws that disenfranchise thousands of Virginians who don’t have photo ID hurt our Commonwealth. No one wants voter fraud to occur, but the kind of fraud these laws guard against is extremely rare and far less risky than denying the vote to thousands of Virginians.
b. Restore the voting rights of non-violent felons
Terry will build off the progress Governor McDonnell has made to automatically restore voting rights to non-violent felons who have paid their debts to society.
c. Support non-partisan redistricting laws
Gerrymandered districts hurt everyone’s ability to get proper representation in the legislature and the Congress. Terry believes that we should adopt a non-partisan redistricting system to ensure equal representation for all Virginians.
d. Ensure every vote gets counted
Every Virginian who casts a ballot deserves to be confident that his or her vote will be counted. Terry will work to ensure that all of our voting devices are uniform, reliable, and provide a verifiable paper trail.
e. Shorten lines and make Election Day easier
It’s absolutely unacceptable for Virginians, many of whom already struggle to balance family and work, to stand in line for hours just to cast their votes. As governor, Terry will work with all stakeholders and local governments to ensure that our polling places can quickly and efficiently serve voters in high turnout elections.
f. Early voting and no-excuse absentee
Another way to make Election Day function more smoothly is to allow voters who know they wont be able to make it to the polls on Election Day to vote early or through no-excuse absentee voting.
g. Protect the franchise with a Virginia Voting Rights Act
Since the Supreme Court struck down important portions of the Voting Rights Act, many communities of color are concerned that they could be the victims of discriminatory voting rules. By proposing a Virginia version of the VRA, which includes pre-clearance by the State Board of Elections, we can reinstate, at the state level, some of the protections lost.
3. Standing up for small and minority owned businesses
When the Commonwealth does business, it should do it with companies and small businesses that reflect the diversity of our Commonwealth. As governor, Terry will support policies that ensure that the state supports small businesses and businesses owned by women or minority citizens.
4. Looking out for Virginia consumers by cracking down on payday lenders
Terry supports much stronger regulation of payday and other short-term loan operations. Too many Virginians fall victim to predatory lenders and we must do more to ensure that low income Virginians aren’t taken advantage of.
5. Protecting our citizens
Virginians deserve to feel safe in their communities. As Governor, Terry will take a number of steps to ensure that crime continues to fall in our communities:
a. Support crime reduction and community policing efforts
When local law enforcement weaves itself into the fabric of a neighborhood, everyone benefits. Officers have safer and more fulfilling patrols and communities can feel more confident in their relationships with law enforcement.
b. Expand efforts to support victim/witness programs
Our dedicated Commonwealth’s Attorneys offices are on the front lines supporting victims and witnesses. We need to ensure that they have the resources they need to support these citizens as we seek justice.
c. Support common sense gun control measures
As Governor, Terry will support mainstream and majority supported gun control measures like universal background checks, limiting the size of magazines, and a return to the 1-gun-per-month rule. These measures respect Virginians’ right to bear arms while reducing gun violence.
6. Investing in public transit
Virginians deserve choices. Transit systems provide choices while increasing property values and commercial activity.
a. Increasing support for transit
We must continue to invest in our local and regional transit systems.
b. Tying together local communities and economies
The Commonwealth should encourage local governments and transit systems to work together to connect our workforce to jobs.
c. Discourage duplication of services
Where multiple systems exist and overlap the Commonwealth should encourage consolidation.
d. Prioritize connecting our light rail and subway systems for economic development
In those parts of the Commonwealth that have a need for light rail or subway systems, we should support those systems and make expansions when they will foster economic development. Of critical importance to that mission are projects like:
i. Bringing Metro Rail all the way to Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County.
ii. Creating a seamless Hampton Roads transit system from the Naval base to the waterfront.
Without healthy citizens our cities can’t be places people want to live, work, or raise their families. As Governor, Terry will ensure that all Virginia residents, including our urban populations, have access to quality, affordable care.
a. Medicaid Expansion
Both morally and economically, expanding Medicaid is right for Virginia. Implemented properly, the Medicaid expansion can create jobs, reduce costs, and provide lifesaving coverage to hundreds of thousands. Additionally, Virginia can expect over $500 million in net General Fund savings by reducing indigent care costs and creating other efficiencies under an expanded Medicaid. Terry will include Medicaid expansion in every budget he submits to the General Assembly.
i. Accept the Medicaid expansion.
Expanding Medicaid will bring life saving care to around 400,000 Virginians, bring $21 billion of our federal tax dollars back from Washington, and create an estimated 33,000 new healthcare jobs here in Virginia.
ii. Support the efforts of the bipartisan Medicaid Reform Commission.
The Medicaid Reform Commission created by the General Assembly during the 2013 session is pursuing important improvements in our Medicaid system.
iii. Work with the federal government to implement reforms.
By having the Governor’s office engage aggressively with the federal government, Virginia can get the flexibility it needs to implement any needed reforms to the Medicaid system.
b. Improving care in our communities
By ensuring that Medical services are provided to those who need them, we can keep our cities healthy and our workforce productive. All Virginians deserve access to quality, affordable healthcare.
i. Increase support for home and community-based services through the Area Agencies on Aging
The Area Agencies on Aging are essential to keeping older adults and people with disabilities in their homes and communities.
ii. Address chronic conditions through better coordination of patient-centered care
Virginia must focus its efforts on cost effective strategies at managing chronic conditions (heart disease, diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and obesity) and preventing avoidable expenses in our healthcare system.
iii. Strengthen mental health services
Mental health services are a critical part of Virginia’s healthcare and public safety services, and recent events in Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Virginia Tech have all shown us that we need to take serious steps to continue to improve our mental health services. Beyond preventing violence, improvements in our mental health safety net can save us money and improve the quality of life for thousands of Virginians and their friends and families. Our mental health system should be able to support a full continuum of care – from a sufficient crisis response, to intense community services, and ultimately to a recovery-focused care leading to independence. By keeping mental health patients in their homes and jobs and out of institutions or the legal system we can save money and improve lives.