'Yes, I Will Sign that Bill'
That's what Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds told our friend Jim Nolan of the Richmond Times-Dispatch during an online chat today when asked if, as governor, he would sign a bill that raised money for transportation if it included a tax increase.
As he has been saying since before the June 9 primary, Deeds told Nolan that improving Virginia's road network is the key to economic development and promised to bring lawmakers to Richmond for a special session in his first year in office to forge consensus about how to raise new money for roads. And, yes, he agreed that if a consensus, bipartisan bill passed with a tax increase, he'd support it.
Here was the full exchange:
What I will do and what I'll commit to do right now is work with whomever is in the General Assembly after January. Because we've got to get past the obstructionist viewpoints that have blocked progress on the issue of transportation. What I will do is work with Democrats and Republicans to build consensus around a series of ideas that allow us to fund transportation, and yes, I will sign that bill.
I'll sign a bill that funds transportation. I won't take money away from existing priorities. I won't take money away from education.
In the 30-minute discussion, Deeds also said he wanted to boost spending on early childhood education and mental health treatment for children, advocated bringing the head of troubled Virginia Information Technologies Agency under gubernatorial control, and said he would sign a bill closing the gun show loophole if it passed the General Assembly.
He also defended his decision to talk about the abortion issue in the campaign as a way of contrasting his priorities with McDonnell's over their careers in public office. He noted that, besides working to restrict abortion, McDonnell also had backed a bill that allowed pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control if their conscience demanded it.
"I think that shows his priorities are out of step with the majority of Virginia, and I think it's appropriate to raise as a campaign issue," he said. "This campaign is not about social issues, but I think it's important to draw distinctions where they exist."
And one final thing: He also labeled as "unfortunate" his July 4 speeding ticket (he was clocked going 11 miles over the speed limit in Albemarle County), as well as his Mother's Day car accident and his collision with a bear in August. "I made a mistake, and I'm done with it," Deeds said of the recent speeding ticket, noting he'd given his normal driver the day off for the holiday and was racing to get home.
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