Education is an investment in our future. It is key to ensuring that our children will have opportunities to succeed and for building and strengthening a healthy economy. Virginia has consistently been rated as a leader in providing a world-class education for students in our public schools and universities.
We must take measures to ensure that our public schools remain competitive in a changing 21st century economy.
Unfortunately, our schools have been underfunded. As your Delegate, I am committed to making responsible budget decisions that protect funding streams that our communities depend on to support our local schools. We must find and promote innovative opportunities and practical solutions to improve education in Virginia.
I support funding for all day kindergarten and for early childhood development programs. It is essential that our children arrive in kindergarten prepared and ready to learn. These programs improve outcomes for children and are a strong determinant of later success in school and the work place. The investments we make in early childhood education can result in lower spending later on our juvenile justice system, for social welfare, and on prisons.
Our universities are among the best in the country. In order to ensure that they remain among the best we need to support them financially. We can’t take our education system for granted. We have to work every day to support it and make it better. As support from the Commonwealth has gone down for our universities, tuition has gone up for our students. We need to restore the traditional role of support for our universities and to our Community Colleges.
An educated workforce is key to our region’s economic growth. Our Community Colleges are a great resource for providing workforce training. Building partnerships with local businesses will provide a foundation to help ensure that the education our children receive will lead to jobs.
“Education is always an investment, never an expense." - Governor Terry McAuliffe
Economic Development and Growth
Virginia has many assets that make it attractive to businesses and families. We have excellent schools, a great quality of life and a low corporate tax rate. It is important that we utilize our assets to help Virginia sustain its position as a preeminent place to live, work and do business.
In order to grow our economy we must support our schools, our transportation systems and ensure access to affordable health care We also must make sure that Virginia is a welcoming community for all workers and their families.
Sequestration has been bad for business in Virginia where we depend heavily on the Federal Government and especially on the defense industry. Virginia is the number one recipient of federal contracts and with more cuts on the horizon, our economic health depends on our ability to expand and diversify.
As your Delegate, I am working with Governor McAuliffe on his initiatives to diversify our private sector economy by focusing on biotech and health care innovation. Inova Fairfax is a great asset and will be a valuable partner in this effort.
I will work with cyber security companies and local businesses to utilize the existing federal presence to grow jobs in those areas. Additionally, by leveraging our academic and industrial research and scientific assets we can better support a diversified economy in biotechnology, biomedical industries and in green energy to promote a diverse and reliable energy supply.
Recently Virginia was the object of ridicule due to the attempts by some members of the House of Delegates to pass legislation demeaning to women and promoting a radical right-wing social agenda. These legislative efforts were detrimental to Virginia’s ability to recruit and retain businesses and grow our economy. I am staunchly against these legislative efforts because they hurt our women, our families and our reputation as a great place to do business.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Northern Virginia has a transportation problem. We know that transportation, infrastructure and education are key investments that fuel future economic growth and impact our quality of life. We waste hours sitting in traffic. We want real transportation solutions.
It is the failure to enforce existing carpool requirements on I-66 that has exacerbated the problem of crowding. Additionally, adding tolls on I-66 has the potential to negatively impact Dulles Airport as well. And Dulles Airport is a key economic engine for the whole area.
I am working for efficient use of transportation funds and for Northern Virginia to get its fair share. We need to make sure these funds are allocated to the critical projects that will relieve congestion, ensure pedestrian and bike safety and improve intersections.
For too many years we have deferred investments in our infrastructure. This not only impacts our economic growth, it is a safety issue. Our roads and highways are our lifeline. Rebuilding aging roads and bridges must be a priority. This will provide jobs and help our economy.
Protecting Women’s Rights
Women’s issues are the issues that impact our day-to-day lives, interfere with our ability to earn a living and that take time away from our families. They include funding for schools, finding transportation solutions, ensuring our children and communities are safe from gun violence, and access to affordable health care.
I support equal pay for women. On average, women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The number is even lower for women of color. It has been more than 50 years since President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law making it illegal to pay unequal wages to men and women who do the same or equal work. It is time to end the wage gap.
I believe we must protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, including choices about contraception.
I am a strong voice against the passage of bills that attempt to limit a woman’s access to health care or that attempt to close clinics that provide life saving cancer screenings.
Women should make their health care decisions with their doctors not their legislators.
Protecting our Communities and our Children
Gun violence has become all too common in our society. In the wake of recent tragedies it is clear that we need sensible gun solutions that will keep our children and communities safe from gun violence. I support enhanced background checks and closing the gun show loophole, which allows people to purchase guns without a background check. The NRA supported background checks after the tragedy at Columbine High School. It is stunning that they have turned their backs on such sensible regulations.
I lost my brother to gun violence. Two gunmen robbed and murdered him. He was the father of five young children, a loving husband, a thoughtful son and a really fun brother.
I work with local groups, police, and concerned citizens to find reasonable regulations to help prevent these terrible tragedies. We must do our best to stop criminals and the mentally ill from obtaining dangerous weapons. And we must fund programs and services for the dangerously mentally ill.