This is a big day for my campaign. Moments ago, we unveiled our first television ad, and I just finished delivering a major address at George Mason University laying out what’s at stake at this election. I wanted to take some time to come here, share some of those thoughts with you, and take a few of your questions.
Today, Virginia faces challenges. The statistics are daunting, but behind the numbers are people who are hurting, families who are worrying about their homes, students wondering whether the promise of a college education will be open to them, and workers wondering whether they will keep their jobs.
We can do better.
I want a Virginia that is the nation’s leader in economic opportunity, where someone in any corner of the Commonwealth can turn their ideas into economic engines that could change the world. Virginia can become the national leader in clean energy, medical research and cutting edge technology.
I want a Virginia where every child can grow up healthy and young people can receive the best possible education at a public school, and where Virginia students at Virginia colleges and universities produce groundbreaking discoveries.
And I want a Virginia where progress, respect and equality prevail, not one separated by politicians with narrow social agendas. We can’t move forward when we are led by those who make division and personal crusades the priority over the common good.
That’s my vision. This is my plan:
Because we need to jump-start our economy and create jobs, I’ll provide a tax cut for any business that creates a job in the Commonwealth. Create a job, get a tax credit. It’s that simple. We’ll also help unemployed workers purchase health insurance, and boost investments in job training, tourism, and women- and minority-owned small businesses.
My education plan includes the creation of 70,000 additional degrees at our colleges and universities in the next 10 years. That will help develop the smartest workforce in the world. As Governor, I will commit an additional $40 million per year to college financial aid and provide up to $15,000 a year in guaranteed student loans. Every Virginian will have access to an affordable higher education.
There is probably no quicker way to unlock the potential for economic growth in Virginia than to break the legislative logjam and pass a plan to fund transportation. My plan is honest and straightforward: we must have a dedicated, long-term funding stream. All options and innovative ideas are on the table—except for raiding money from education.
This election is about creating economic opportunity in every corner of the Commonwealth. But sadly, Bob McDonnell has a record of consistently opposing every chance to do so. Just recently he said he believes President Bush did a good job and he created, "an economic revival in America."
The fiscal policies of George Bush doubled the national debt and resulted in over 300,000 Virginians losing their jobs and 48,000 Virginia families losing their homes to foreclosure. That’s not a revival, and I will not let Bob McDonnell take us back to this economic approach.
We also can’t go back to the days when Virginia’s progress was blocked by bitter divisive battles over social issues. During his entire career, my opponent didn't sponsor one bill – not a SINGLE bill -- to create jobs through economic development or provide needed resources for education. Instead, his public service has been a career-long pattern of focusing on social issues. He sponsored 35 bills in the General Assembly to restrict a woman’s right to choose. He supports vouchers for private schools. He opposes stem cell research and believes that government should interfere in a family’s most personal decisions like those of Terri Schiavo and Hugh Finn.
With the economic problems we have in Virginia, we definitely can’t afford to go back to that.
With the help of committed grassroots activists, we’ve accomplished so much in the last eight years. We put two Democrats into the governor’s mansion, and picked up three Congressional seats. With Jim Webb’s victory over George Allen, we won a majority in the United States Senate. The following year, we won a majority in the state Senate. And in 2008, we voted Barack Obama into the White House – the first time Virginia’s voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate since 1964.
But everything that we’ve worked so hard to accomplish is at risk in this election. We just can’t afford to go back. We can’t afford to get mired down in an ideological crusade, and we can’t afford to replace our common-sense mainstream goals with his social agenda and failed economic approaches of the past.