Lohr and Hart Q&A?

Brent Finnegan -- September 15th, 2009

The DNR ran a short story today about a debate on taxes and transportation funding between Del. Matt Lohr and challenger Gene Hart. If there is interest among readers for an hburgnews Q&A featuring these two candidates, leave your questions in the comments, and I’ll contact the candidates once we’ve compiled a list of your questions.

12 Responses to “Lohr and Hart Q&A?”

  1. Delegate Lohr:
    VDOT recommended in February a series of reductions to address a $2.6 billion revenue shortfall. These include cuts over the next six years of $2 billion to the construction program, $391 million to administrative and support programs including staffing reductions, and $348 million in reductions to the maintenance and operations program such as reductions to ferry services, interstate maintenance, grass cutting and rest areas.

    In March VDOT collected comments to this budget cutting program. You have recently called for another audit of VDOT.

    My Question in three parts:
    1.) Do you believe that an audit of VDOT would find $2.6 billion in misappropriated funds?
    2.) Audits are expensive. If there is an audit, where, specifically, do you believe that these misappropriated funds reside? What program, or cost center?
    3) If there is no need for another audit, what specific revenue enhancements are you willing to support to add funding to the VDOT budget?
    3.) If an audit

  2. Just to clarify; any question asked should be asked equally of both candidates. Just as we did last October, all candidates should have a chance to answer the same questions.

  3. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Related to those questions, and I have asked this of Sen. Obenshain, is how much will the audit cost and where will the money come from? One estimate I saw said $5 million+ for an audit of an organization that size. I’m not against an audit in principle, but it seems awfully convenient to imagine it will fix all the problems with transportation funding but not provide the funding to actually carry it out.

  4. BANDIT says:

    Aaahhh…..How will the audits help? Rebecca Neal had TWO per year… near perfect records at that…..Marsha & Kurt still came up with something.

  5. Why should Matt Lohr get a pass on transportation funding voodoo? He (and his buddy Obenshain) keep kicking the can down the road with this “audit VDOT” nonsense. VDOT has conducted what – 4 or 5 financial audits? Show me the beef or shut up. Gene Hart has taken a principled stand, Matt Lohr is hiding behind a flaky smoke screen.

  6. Keep the questions coming, folks. Here are a few from the Facebook page:

    John Reeves: “Suggestion: General question about the Benefits for high quality child day care and good reasons for community to help provide such to: a) single-parent/ low-income parents who need financial help and sliding-scale fees, and b) single parents at high school, who after screening, really need help from the “village” to earn their degree and to learn and utilize effective parenting and life-skills to escape cycle of poverty.
    The Editorial by HBurg DNR about “Project 4T” was very mean, inaccurate and not values we should support.”

    Dany Fleming: “Agree with Reeves. However, the discussion should also include how they support the availability of higher quality and properly funded daycare for every child and parent – those who may need a sliding-scale and those who don’t. We are far behind the curve in quality daycare; even though it’s a very high-yield investment.”

    Mary Lou Wylie: “A question about assistance for the unemployed. Why did Matt Lohr vote against accepting stimulus benefits to extend unemployment benefits? What would Hart and Lohr do to address unemployment?”

  7. Bill says:

    My question is to both candidates (which makes it fair): What current state mandates, funded or unfunded, will you seek to remove from the responsibilty of local governments to provide if elected?

  8. Gene Hart says:

    Brent,

    Thanks for the email with several questions. I will endeavor to answer them and others already posted in a timely manner.

    1. Mary Lou Wylie: “What would Hart and Lohr do to address unemployment?”

    I continue to believe that solving our current transportation funding crisis to provide adequate revenue to state transportation needs (be it road maintenance or construction, light rail, public transportation, freight rail) is a key to Virginia’s near and longer term economic growth. Already businesses are refusing to come to areas that are our “economic engines” (northern Virginia and Tidewater) because the transportation system is not conducive to getting employees to work or getting them to work without a quality-of-life-destroying commute). That cannot be allowed to continue.

    Lest we think that this is just a NoVa problem, I give you: Americast, Rockingham Redi-Mix, Rockingham Precast, Frazier Quarry, etc. Builiding and maintaining roads in Virginia, even in northern Virginia, means jobs here in the Valley.

    The new RMH is going to be a local engine for economic activity. But will it reach its potential if we can’t get there? I live in Belmont on the west side of the city and doubt from personal experience that the local road network can support the growth expected/hoped for around the new hospital. We will get some relief from federal stimulus funding to widen Pt. Republic Road. For that we can thank Rep. Perriello not Del. Lohr; we can thank Rep. Nye not Del. Landes; we can thank Rep. Connolly not Del. Gilbert. I don’t expect that the federal government will bail us out to fix Stone Spring Road, Reservoir Street or Boyers Road; that responsibility will fall to the members of the House of Delegates elected this year. Past experience shows the current members will not meet that responsibility.

  9. Gene Hart says:

    Now a few more (sorry!) words on what I believe will be an area of job growth in Virginia if we enact proper policies: “green” jobs and alternative energy sources. ?The current majority in the House of Delegates refuses to understand that Virginia can and must become a national leader in promoting green jobs and alternative and renewable energy sources. While some of these efforts must necessarily focus on longer-term development and emerging technologies, there are a large number of things Virginia can and should do immediately to strengthen our green economic sector.

    Currently, Virginia has a voluntary standard for power companies to produce 12% of their power from renewable energy sources by 2022. I support making this a mandatory standard that these companies produce at least 25% of their power from renewable energy sources by 2025. The
    Commonwealth possesses great potential in wind power, solar energy, biomass and organic-waste-to-energy (especially poultry-waste-to-energy). However, this great potential will not be realized unless we require our power companies to move away from near-total reliance on last century’s energy technologies.

    “Green building standards” address the construction and renovation of buildings that are less-costly to operate, conserve energy and water, are safer and healthier for occupants, and produce less waste. Homes and buildings constructed or renovated to these standards save money, energy and natural resources. Tax credits should be available for homeowners purchasing new homes constructed to “green” standards and for homeowners who renovate their existing homes to those standards. I also support the requirement that all new and renovated state- and local government-owned facilities meet the highest level of these standards.

    The recent struggles of American automobile manufacturers are well-know to us in Virginia because they have and will continue to cost us jobs in the Commonwealth. However, the focus on these companies’ acknowledged failures obscures the fact that they are now producing or will soon be
    producing some of the most innovative and fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles in the world. As of 2009-10, there is no reason that state and local agencies (to include police departments) should not be purchasing these hybrid vehicles as they replace the cars and trucks in existing fleets. The best
    “bailout” that we could provide to Detroit would be to purchase the great products that are now being
    manufactured here in America with parts often made in Virginia.

  10. Gene Hart says:

    That was fun, let’s try another. Because they are related, I will do #2 and #3 together.

    2. John Reeves: “How can Virginia help provide high quality child day care to: a) single-parent/ low-income parents who need financial help and sliding-scale fees? And b) single parents at high school, who after screening, really need help from the “village” to earn their degree and to learn and utilize effective parenting and life-skills to escape cycle of poverty?”

    3. Dany Fleming: (follow up to Reeves’ question) “How would Virginia support the availability of higher quality and properly funded daycare for every child and parent – those who may need a sliding-scale and those who don’t?”

    John and Dany, in tight budget times (and they will get tighter in the next two years as federal stimulus monies cease) it will be difficult to maintain current levels of state support to these stressed parents. It will likely be impossible to provide increased state support. I wish it were otherwise but I refuse to promise beyond where I expect I could even attempt to deliver if elected.

    With regard to the second part of John’s question, I expect that this is aimed at discussing programs such as Harrisonburg High School’s 4T program. A quick disclaimer: my wife, Jill, teaches at HHS and has taught in the 4T program. We know the program, we know the people who run it, and we know the students (male and female) who have benefited from its existence. We can have this program or we will have more dropouts. We can have this program or we will have more young parents (male and female) who have no idea how to live up to their responsibilities as parents even when they want to meet those responsibilities. Sure, their parents should have taught them; but, when they haven’t we as a society should not refuse to undertake efforts that can break that cycle.

    4T is a great program and I would want to do everything I could to get funds to see it survive. However, again, I can’t promise that the money is there in the state coffers. I can suggest that HHS and the county schools consider whether they can come up with a regional funding plan and implementation plan. Build on the program at HHS, don’t necessarily try to replicate it in the county high schools. Perhaps young parents from across the region could be consolidated at HHS with funding from other localities (in addition to available state, federal and private funding).

  11. Gene Hart says:

    Well, we are on a roll so let’s get to the last one sent by Brent.

    4. Bill: “What current state mandates, funded or unfunded, will you seek to remove from the responsibility of local governments to provide if elected?”

    Bill, I am going to ask you for some additional information in order to give you as detailed an answer as you may be seeking. What current state mandates do you think are in existence that should be considered for removal?

    I can tell you that, philosophically, I believe that mandates passed at each level of government (whether it be federal or state) should come with the funding to implement those mandates by those that are required to do the implementation. If elected, I will ask the local city council, board of supervisors and school boards to tell me what it is that the state insists on that doesn’t come with funding. Then, the solution should be that the state provides necessary funding (or allows localities the necessary revenue raising means to meet requirements) or the mandate goes away.

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