McDonnell pushes K-12 agenda, transportation, felon rights

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–Speaking before a packed chamber at the State Capitol, Governor Bob McDonnell was direct as he delivered the annual State of the Commonwealth address.

He told state lawmakers that although the federal government appears to be falling apart, the state’s government can’t do the same, especially when it comes to education. 

“We are all out of excuses. We must act now,” said McDonnell.

The governor wants to provide quality teachers with pay raises, while also making it easier to do away with those who are failing.

“If a young person does not graduate from high school or does not graduate career or college ready, you have failed, I have failed and worse, they have failed,” said McDonnell.

McDonnell’s efforts to pay teachers based on performance didn’t make its way out of the capitol last session and lawmakers on the other side aren’t sure it will make its way out this time either.

“We may not be able to resolve it this session, but, there certainly needs to be a dialogue,” said Democratic Senator, Donald McEachin.

McEachin said there also needs to be a dialogue about the governor’s transportation proposal.

McDonnell wants to totally eliminate the gas tax and instead, increase the sales tax to fund transportation projects.

“That’s money we need in the classroom, money for first responders, money to help senior citizens,” said McEachin. “Don’t send me a budget that does not include transportation funding,” warned the governor.

While the two sides aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on those issues, there was one jaw-dropping moment when McDonnell addressed efforts to allow non-violent felons to have their voting rights restored. 

McEachin supports the efforts to allow non-violent felons to have their voting rights restored after they finish serving time in prison, on probation and have paid all fines.

“We spend time going through all these. I approve most of them. It takes a lot of time and I think it’s the just thing to do,” said McDonnell.  

The governor also focused on the need to fund mental health.

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