McAuliffe stops by Va. Capitol to lobby for transportation bill

|
Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

RICHMOND -- Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe briefly dropped by the Virginia capitol Wednesday to meet with lawmakers before a key vote on a historic transportation package.

A day after he was officially named his party's nominee, McAuliffe met behind closed doors with the House Democratic caucus. The meeting only lasted a couple of minutes before McAuliffe hopped in a sport-utility vehicle and headed off to another engagement.

The General Assembly is back in Richmond to take up 91 bills Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell amended. Included in the docket are some small changes to a transportation funding overhaul that's projected to raise $6 billion in new taxes for road work in the next five years.

McAuliffe also spoke with delegates in his party last month before the decisive to pass the roads bill and said Wednesday he wanted to thank them for taking a tough vote in an election year.

"I thanked them and told them as I travel throughout the commonwealth, if we're going to grow the economy and create economic development we cannot do it without transportation," McAuliffe said. "I know for many folks in there this was a hard lift for them. There's a lot of things in the bill they did not like. I said as governor we can work on some of those things."

Later, McAuliffe said "some of those things" could include raising taxes again to find more revenue for roads.

"There are a lot of things we need to do on transportation. This was a great, great first step," he said. "I'm not ruling anything out. Nor should you. You should never take anything off the table."

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe's Republican opponent in the gubernatorial race, is a staunch opponent of the bill, which he has frequently labeled a massive tax hike.

The former Democratic National Committee chairman also addressed criticism from Cuccinelli that his electric car company, Mississippi-based GreenTech Automotive, hasn't created the jobs McAuliffe promised it would.

"I've been involved in business my whole life. I've started a lot of businesses. I've invested. Some businesses work, some don't," McAuliffe said, adding that it wasn't a concession that GreenTech has failed. "It's the experiences you learn from business. And we can look at different businesses this way, that way, but I promise you I can bring a long history of working together, working with other folks in a commonsense, bipartisan way to create jobs."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment