In a wide-ranging speech to a couple hundred Democrats in Loudoun County Saturday night, Terry McAuliffe touched on Virginia's economy, education, health care and the commonwealth's transportation network.
Focusing on education, McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for governor in November's election, said “it's a disgrace the way we treat our teachers here in Virginia.”
“Let me be crystal clear folks: I never view education as an expense, I view education as an investment,” McAuliffe said, noting that average teacher pay in the commonwealth ranks last in the nation. Standards of Learning (SOL) tests are a poor way to gauge student achievement and need to be done away with, McAuliffe added.
The 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election – in which McAuliffe is battling Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli – provides perhaps the starkest contrast in candidates in history, the Democrat said Saturday during the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Lansdowne.
McAuliffe highlighted the two candidates' opposing views on the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
As attorney general Cuccinelli filed a lawsuit against the federal government challenging the legality of the Affordable Care Act.
“[Cuccinelli] doesn't want the Medicaid expansion [included within health care reform],” McAuliffe said. “… I will not sign a budget in Virginia unless the Medicaid expansion is included. It is morally, socially the right thing to do – 400,000 [additional] Virginians will get access to quality health care.”
Also on health care, McAuliffe said as governor he would lift more stringent regulations on women's care centers, including abortion facilities.
In his 17-minute speech, McAuliffe praised lawmakers from both parties who worked together to pass this year's transportation funding overhaul, House Bill 2313. McAuliffe said he's “all for mass transportation” and “getting cars off the road.”
A robust and adequate transit system is essential for luring businesses and creating jobs, McAuliffe said.
A father of five, the Democratic candidate is a 20-year resident of Northern Virginia. He said, like the other parents in the room, he wants his children to remain in the commonwealth.
“But in order for them to stay here, we've got to have those jobs of the 21st century,” McAuliffe said.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli was also in Loudoun County Saturday. For an overview of his interview with the Times-Mirror, read “Cuccinelli chats up voters near Dulles.”