Live Blog: Ask the Governor with Bob McDonnell

WASHINGTON – Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was a guest Tuesday on WTOP’s “Ask The Governor” program. Here’s what he had to say:

10:57 a.m., speaking about the Repeal Amendment, to allow states to overturn federal law:

“I think it’s a timely topic.”

I do support it. It’s an attempt to get back to the basic principles of federalism that Madison and Jefferson wrote in the U.S. Constitution. For decades, Congress has trampled on the 9th and 10th amendments, which allow the states to be closer to the people.

It would be used in very, very rare cases but would at least balance the relationship between states and the federal government.

It would be an uphill battle to get passed.

10:55 a.m., speaking about removing hybrid cars’ exemption from HOV regulations:

That was a rule put in place by previous administrations as an incentive to use cars that contribute better to the environment. The overall idea of these HOT lanes is to reduce congestion, and one person in a car doesn’t do that.

10:44 a.m., speaking about the fraud case with former Virginia Finance Secretary John W. Forbes II:

I was not aware of it until I read some things in the paper. If there was a letter in 2006 that came to my office, it did not come to my attention.

“I certainly will go back and take a look at” a letter about the incident that supposedly was received by McDonnell’s office when he was attorney general.

10:42 a.m., speaking about immigration reform:

Obviously it’s something addressed at the federal level. The federal government preempts state governments from doing much of anything, except a small level in the law enforcement area.

It’s been a bi-partisan failure. I’ve been working closely with ICE, a good partner with Virginia law enforcement, to have particularly sexual offenders deported from the United States. I’m working with ICE to see if they can give us permission to have state law enforcement enforce some of the civil laws.

10:41 a.m., speaking about costs for e-filing income taxes:

That was one of $4.2 billion in cuts last year to reduce state expenses. Now up to to the tax-payer to use a commercial service if they want to file electronically.

10:34 a.m., speaking about cutting $10 million from Virginia Commonwealth University:

The Board of Visitors at VCU has increased tuition 24 percent. I am going to push back against boards that have these kinds of increases.

“You could construe that” this is a warning to other Virginia schools.

Colleges have got to manage their money better, and find new ways to be more efficient. That’s the formula that’s going to get us out of the quandary we’ve been in.

10:32 a.m., speaking about getting Virginians into a four-year university:

My goal is 100,000 new degrees in the next 15 years. We have too little access.

College tuitions are doubling every ten years. That’s unsustainable.

10:25 a.m., speaking about raising the reckless speed driving in tandem with new increased speed limits:

“I’m examining that, but 80 (mph) is still a very fast, dangerous speed. I’m not sure yet if that’s a meritorious proposal.”

10:23 a.m., speaking about state police under-staffing:

I’m very concerned about that. I’m planning to find full funding for three new trooper schools, which will provide about 175 new sworn officers.

State police will coordinate with local sheriff’s officers for additional road patrolling this Christmas season.

10:22 a.m., speaking about a bill opposing gay service in the Virginia National Guard:

“While I disagree with the action the Congress took based on my own experience in the military… we can’t have two different systems in the military and our National Guard.”

Whatever the final guidelines are from the Department of the Defense, I expect the Virginia National Guard Bureau to adhere to them.

10:21 a.m., speaking about Metro security bag checks:
Our bigger concerns are the financing and operations of Metro.

We are determined to make sure there is a safe and secure system that is well-managed. I’m excited about these revisions and we want to make it better.

10:13 a.m., speaking about receiving federal funding to attract businesses, while slashing state budgets, including employee pay:

“It’s an investment, and the more businesses that come here, grow and increase our tax base, the more revenues by far we can use to spend on health, prisons.”

Almost every one of these deals we make for big or small businesses, we ask for a three to five year payback.

10:11 a.m., speaking about 529 Payment Plans:

I bought four of those contracts for four of my five children.

You can be very sure that your money going into 529 will be there when your children go to college.


10:04 a.m., speaking about a proposal to have state employees pay 5 percent into the pension fund, for a 3 percent raise:

“We have a system that’s broken. My first and foremost job is to make sure when people retire, the money that’s already promised is there.”

Each employee pays 2 percent, and the state pays 2 percent more than they already are. “That’s the only way I see to fix it.”

“If we don’t do this, the whole system is going to be in trouble in a short period of time.”

For 20 years our state employees have had to pay zero into the retirement system — one of four states that do that.

“We’re getting up to speed on what the majority of pension plans — public and private — have to do.”

(Copyright 2010 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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