Fairfax Chamber Asks Deeds: What Transportation Plan?
Fairfax Chamber of Commerce officials had some harsh words for Democrat Creigh Deeds in explaining their endorsement today of Republican Bob McDonnell in the Virginia governor's race.
On a conference call with reporters this afternoon, they faulted Deeds for not having a plan to ease traffic congestion in Northern Virginia.
"It was disappointing when we met with Creigh Deeds that not only didn't he have a plan, he also said he was not in favor of using any general fund money for transportation,'' said lawyer Stuart Mendelsohn, chamber chairman. "He objected to even using bonds for transportation and I don't know how you are going to do any of this without bonds."
McDonnell's "plan is working toward a solution, whereas Mr. Deeds has not proposed a plan, and we had no way of really comparing what the two had to say,'' said Fran Fisher, chairwoman of the NOVABizPAC, the chamber's political arm. "He hasn't been clear about what his plan is ... after numerous times of direct questioning. He hasn't spoken about how he would use those funds. He hasn't spoken specifically about how he would raise the funds. All he will say is vaguely that he will be willing to raise additional taxes but not leaving any other alternatives."
Deeds has pledged to come up with a statewide, long-term solution in his first year in office but has offered few details. McDonnell has proposed paying for transportation by shifting state money and relying on funding sources that don't involve tax increases, such as privatizing the state's liquor stores and adding tolls on some highways. Deeds and others have criticized McDonnell for offering a plan that would take money from public education, public safety and other core services.
The chamber represents more than 700 member companies and an influential voting bloc in the all-important, vote-rich region of Northern Virginia.
The Fairfax chamber hosted the second gubernatorial debate between McDonnell and Deeds last week. Its PAC interviewed both candidates for an hour each and met behind closed doors this week to discuss its endorsement.
In the interviews, McDonnell and Deeds were asked about transportation, economic development and tax policy.
Earlier, we got a response from the Deeds campaign on the endorsement. Here it is again:
"Creigh's got growing support in the business community because, unlike his opponent, he's been part of the team that helped make Virginia the Best State for Business in the nation,'' said Mo Elleithee, Deeds's senior adviser. "He's also got the only honest plan for transportation, as evidenced in today's Post column. If we're going to keep growing business in Virginia, we have to deal with the transportation crisis. Creigh has an honest plan to do that, unlike Bob McDonnell's shell game that just takes $5.4 billion from Virginia schools to pay for roads."
September 23, 2009; 5:05 PM ET
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