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Friday, May 10, 2013

McAuliffe's priorities include transportation, education, equality

Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, told a roomful of supporters May 9 that his priorities include ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, reproductive rights for women, and more funding for transportation and education.

“We’ve got to grow the economy here in Northern Virginia,” and that means addressing the transportation problem, McAuliffe said at a meeting of the Brigades, a network of Democratic activists. Noting that people in the region waste 73 hours a year sitting in traffic, he said, “it’s a quality of life issue.”  His Republican opponent, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, meanwhile, voted against the transportation bill recently signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and tried to stop the rail-to-Dulles project, he said.

Another priority for McAuliffe is education. “We have to stop demeaning teachers,” he said. Virginia ranks in last place among the states when it comes to teacher pay, he said; “we’ve got to pay teachers what they’re worth.”

He also called for restructuring the state Standards of Learning tests to make them more relevant to what students should be taught, full funding for the standards of quality in education, and more money for prekindergarten programs and community colleges, which are crucial for workforce training.

McAuliffe said he supports expansion of the Medicaid program, which would provide coverage to an additional 400,000 Virginians and create 33,000 healthcare jobs. “This is your money,” he said. If Virginia doesn’t accept it, the funds will go to other states, costing hospitals $200 million.

McAuliffe vowed to work to keep women’s health centers open, shut down payday lenders, support equal pay for woman, and work for marriage equality.

The Virginia election for governor is attracting national attention, and the Cuccinelli campaign is raising big money from the billionaire, ultraconservative Koch brothers. If the Democrats win this election, McAuliffe said, “we will stamp out the Tea Party.”

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