Monday, October 29, 2007

McDonnell: The GOP Created the State's Modern Record of Success

[By Attorney General Bob McDonnell]

From the formation of political parties in the early 19th century until the modern political era, the Democrat Party controlled the Virginia General Assembly and the office of the governor. The Republican Party was virtually irrelevant in shaping public policy in the commonwealth.

Republicans, however, possessed powerful assets: principles and ideas. Republicans adopted a strong intellectual voice that addressed the hopes and dreams of the taxpaying citizen. Republicans fought for traditional Virginia principles of lower taxes, less spending, free enterprise, and individual liberty, and innovative ideas on education, welfare, and criminal-justice reform.

Virginians agreed with these ideas and gave Republicans the opportunity to govern.

The policy results are written in the history of Virginia: record job gains, major economic investments, lower taxes, reduced crime rates, rising academic standards, and thousands moving from welfare to self-sufficiency.

Republican principles have become a record of accomplishment for all Virginians. Republicans overhauled Virginia's criminal justice system, enacted constitutional protections for crime victims, dismantled a turnstile parole system, and supported new resources for law-enforcement officers. Republican policies reformed the juvenile-justice system, established truth-in-sentencing, imposed life imprisonment for violent three-time felons, dramatically toughened laws to investigate and punish child sexual predators, drunk drivers, and Internet criminals, and passed sweeping new victims' rights protections.

These policies have produced a statewide decline in all categories of violent crime, and have increased by about 300 percent the average time served by violent criminals.

Republicans implemented free-enterprise policies that sparked an era of unprecedented economic growth in Virginia that continues to this day. Republicans championed a vibrant free market, protected the right-to-work law, implemented pro-growth tax and regulatory policies, reduced unnecessary litigation, and relied on faith in the spirit of the individual and the entrepreneur to create jobs and opportunity and make investments.

These policies have produced the lowest unemployment rate in more than 40 years, increased state revenue, and in 2006 and 2007 prompted Forbes magazine to rank Virginia as the "best state for business" in the nation.

Republicans have reduced the tax burden on the citizens of Virginia. Republican legislation reduced the car tax by nearly 70 percent, reduced the food tax by 50 percent, eliminated the implicit income tax on Social Security benefits, eliminated the death tax, and enacted numerous tax credits and taxpayer rights. From 1996 to 2007, Republicans reduced taxes amounting to $2.36 billion annually.

Republicans produced record funding of public education, higher academic standards, increased test scores, and greater accountability. Republican policies stressed the basics: Students should be taught, teachers supported, parents involved, administrators given deference, standards set high, accountability demanded, and choice encouraged.

While Democrats complained and postured, Republicans produced the most comprehensive transportation reform plan in Virginia history. Republicans understood that prompt action was needed to devise a substantive improvement in transportation. Republican policies locked up the transportation trust fund, utilized bonds to jumpstart projects, generated nearly a billion dollars annually in new money, and enacted major reforms to improve the effectiveness at VDOT.

Republicans have stood consistently for the traditional values of Virginia. Republicans championed and passed an amendment to the Virginia Constitution protecting the institution of marriage, enacted sweeping new protections of private property rights, outlawed the brutal practice of infanticide, and consistently defended the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

Republicans produced innovative reforms that have turned the tide from the welfare state to the opportunity society. Republicans passed the first comprehensive welfare-reform program in the nation, with a strict work requirement for able-bodied welfare recipients, and a two-year time limit on welfare benefits. These policies reduced Virginia welfare rolls by 60 percent. Recently, Republicans provided new investments in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup and open-space preservations, while restructuring electricity regulation to ensure a ready supply of low-cost power.

This documented record of achieving results is exactly the record Virginians support. Republicans have publicly outlined their plan to continue these principles in the 2008 legislative session to reduce the real-estate tax burden on our citizens, to reduce government spending and apply a new level of accountability to existing government programs, to combat illegal immigration, to eliminate burdensome regulation and foster economic growth, and to enact innovative programs in education and school construction.

The party that laid the foundation of Virginia's modern success is uniquely qualified to lead and build on that success. It is a clear choice between Republican results and Democrat rhetoric. The Republican Party can be trusted with the future of Virginia.

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