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:

10:58 a.m., speaking about rising cost of tuition at state colleges:

My plan has two parts: Increase access and reducing cost, and going after more links between college educations and jobs.

We need to have a greater focus on science, tech, math and engineering.

I will make announcement Friday on behalf of the higher education commission about sweeping reforms that will be a model for the nation.

The Boards of Visitors controls tuition hikes, but I don’t expect to see any more “whopping increases.”

10:55 a.m., speaking about greater oversight for Metro:

Virginia has no vote in the Metro governance board, but provides much of the funding. I hope it won’t come to witholding that funding. I would agree to only appoint representatives from northern Virginia.

10:53 a.m., speaking about making illegal K2, the incense that can be used to get high:

If it doesn’t have the hallucinogenic properties controlled by the government’s control act, it’s hard to mitigate.

We have a law right now that bans the sale of imitation marijuana, but I don’t know if that will apply.

10:47 a.m., speaking about errors in ABC privatization projected revenue:

Nobody in the business community supports a government monopoly on the product.

The projected revenues are “not the transportation plan, this is one idea that generates money for transportation.”

I will have much more detailed plan next month.

10:41 a.m., speaking about job creation and economic development:

We have a major incentive programs to focus on technology, biospace, tourism and the wine industry. I went to Silicon Valley in California to recruit tech businesses.

Going to China, India, Japan and Israel to seek other companies to invest, and we will be opening trade offices in London.

Tobacco companies have billions of dollars to invest in the “tobacco footprint” — areas that used to be primarily involved with the tobacco industry.

10:38 a.m., speaking about why there will be no pay raise for state employees in the wake of a $403 million surplus:

That money comes from $228 million in new revenues and $175 million in savings, but three quarters is already spent by the state General Assembly.

“I only have about $100 million left, and I’m going to put that into transportation.”

10:30 a.m., speaking about interstate developments, and Arlington opposition:

Arlington filed a lawsuit over the I-95 hotlane expansion. It’s got to be done or else the tandem I-495 expansion won’t work.

We are disappointed with the suit, but we are working to get that resolved.

10:24 a.m., speaking about full body pat-downs at airports, and security arranging for the governor to forego security checks:

“Overall, I think the system is working.”

“I think (the TSA needs) to retool their procedures a little bit.” Body scans are “probably over the line” in regard to “people’s concerns about their privacy.”

I can relate to the security measures. I fly coach and “I really enjoyed that experience.”

10:22 a.m., speaking about the effects of D.C.’s recent legalization of medical marijuana, and potentially legalizing it in Virginia:

I would have to see evidence that there are no negative side effects and that it can be controlled.

I have seen no evidence that it has all the therapeutic benefits that people claim.

I assume (D.C.) has reasonable control, and that it would only go to the appropriate patients.

10:16a.m., speaking about meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and potential military base closures:

Along with the congressional delegation, we are “unified in opposition of a wholesale disestablishment” of Virginia military bases.

We asked for federal funds to help if there is significant negative impact from the closures.

The Defense Department is in the very beginning stages of closures.

“I don’t think we’re going to see (Hampton Roads-based Joint Force Command) go away.”

10:12 a.m., speaking about federal employee pay freeze and Virginia’s 3 percent pay raise for state employees:

The level of federal debt is “immoral and unsustainable.”

Federal employee salaries are higher than their counterparts in the private sector, and the state and local level.

Our state employees haven’t had a raise in four years, and they will only earn it if they saved money at the fiscal year end.

10:05 a.m., speaking about Virginia’s winter preparedness:

“We learned a lot last year.”

“We feel very prepared. We revised some of our plans, particularly with the National Guard, and we are ready to go.”

The snow-removal budget for this year is based on what the average snowfall would be.

The state has applied for some federal relief money, but those funds can take a while to arrive.

(Copyright 2010 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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