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Text of Creigh Deeds campaign address

Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds delivered an address today at George Mason University outlining his vision for the future of Virginia and delineating key policy differences between himself and Republican candidate Bob McDonnell.

The text of the address:

Good morning and thank you for joining me today.

This election is about Virginia’s future: how we deal with economic challenges we face, how we make our public schools the best and most innovative we possibly can. It’s about how we finally fix the partisan logjam and pass a transportation plan, and how we control government spending through commonsense, bipartisan management that makes government work.

Simply put, as I said on the day I became a candidate and the night I won the Democratic primary, this election is about bringing prosperity, economic opportunity and hope to every corner of the Commonwealth.
It’s not a campaign slogan. This has been my life’s work. This commitment to economic opportunity and education is why I became involved in public service. It’s who I am.

I am proud of my eighteen-year legislative record of fighting for economic opportunity and protecting our shared priorities. What has informed my agenda as a legislator is the life I have led.

I understand the pressures faced by Virginia families. My wife works full time. We have four children, two of whom have gone through college, one that’s still there, and our youngest who’s working hard to go soon. I understand the serious challenges faced by working families because I’m part of one.

That’s why my plans for Virginia focus on solutions for the struggles all of us face each and every day.

I am a product of Virginia’s public schools. With two grandmothers who taught here, I grew up understanding how important it was to get a diploma. I learned at a young age that I had to make most of every opportunity that came my way to do something special with my life.

I grew up on a farm and my family didn’t have much. I knew poor, but I was fortunate enough not to know hunger. That changed one summer when I was a teenager, working at a camp for disadvantaged kids.

At lunch, this little nine-year-old boy looked up at me and asked, “You mean we eat more than once a day here?”

That opened my eyes—and my heart. I realized in that moment that the world wasn’t perfect, that right here in Virginia there were people who were hurting and kids who went to bed hungry.

And it made me realize I could make a difference.

My mom got me started. She made sure I had the opportunity to attend college—and that was a great gift. She sent me off to college with just four $20 bills in my pocket. I worked hard, studied hard, and now I’m running for Governor.

I know that I’m standing here today because of good public schools and a college education.

My story—and, I imagine, many of your own stories—are built on quality education, a strong, supportive family and community, and a Commonwealth that offers anyone who works for it the chance to succeed.

It’s your family and the people in your communities who have the biggest impact on you—but it’s the people we elect who have the biggest impact on your educational and economic opportunities. That’s the reason I got into public service.

Bringing opportunity to people all over the Commonwealth has motivated me throughout my career, and will continue to be my mission from the Governor’s office. I’ve worked hard to find common ground, to forge commonsense, bipartisan solutions that cause constructive change and create chances for our citizens.

My career has shown me that working together the people of this Commonwealth can count on government to make a difference.

I’ve seen my colleagues join together to make our communities safer with initiatives like Megan’s Law and Amber Alert. We’ve cleaned up toxic waste dumps like Kim-Stan and worked to improve the Chesapeake Bay.

We’ve reduced class sizes and improved student and school performance with standards and accountability.

Working together we built the Governor’s Economic Opportunity fund into a powerful tool that has brought more than 78,000 jobs to the Commonwealth.

I’ve been proud to have been a leader on many of these efforts. But make no mistake: nothing worth doing gets done unless both sides work together.

Today, Virginia faces challenges. The statistics are daunting, but behind the numbers are people who are hurting, families who are worrying about their homes, students wondering whether the promise of a college education will be open to them, and workers wondering whether they will keep their jobs.

We’ve faced crisis before.

And on the most important economic decision the Commonwealth has made in the last decade, I stood with Mark Warner, and with moderate Democrats and Republicans like Jim Dillard and Republican Leader John Chichester to pass a bipartisan plan that reformed our budget and made record investments in our schools.

We brought new businesses and jobs to the state—from Lebanon in southwest Virginia to Loudoun in the northern suburbs.

That experience taught me that challenge breeds opportunity, and I have faith that the power that binds Virginians together will get us through this national and state economic crisis.

But working across the aisle to make responsible choices made Virginia what it is today — the best state in which to do business, the best-managed state, the best state in which to raise a child.

The way we face this new crisis and the choices we make will affect how we will live and work for the next decade or more.

Here is my vision.

I want a Virginia that is the nation’s leader in economic opportunity. Where someone in any corner of the Commonwealth can turn their ideas into economic engines that could change the world. Virginia can become the national leader in clean energy, medical research and cutting edge technology.

I want a Virginia where every child can grow up healthy and young people can receive the best possible education at a public school, and where Virginia students at Virginia colleges and universities produce groundbreaking discoveries.

And I want a Virginia where progress, respect and equality prevail, not one separated by politicians with narrow social agendas. We can’t move forward when we are led by those who make division and personal crusades the priority over the common good.

That’s my vision .

This is my plan .

We need to jump-start our economy and create jobs. My plan provides a tax cut for any business that creates a job in the Commonwealth. Create a job, get a tax credit. It’s that simple. We’ll also help unemployed workers purchase health insurance, and boost investments in job training, tourism, and women- and minority-owned small businesses.

Because my college education was so instrumental in my life, my education plan includes the creation of 70,000 additional degrees at our colleges and universities in the next 10 years. That will help develop the smartest workforce in the world. Better schools mean better jobs.

In addition, we must ensure that Virginia families can afford to send their kids to college. Too many talented young people are getting turned away at the door because of cost, and that is unacceptable to me.

As Governor, I will commit an additional $40 million per year to college financial aid and provide up to $15,000 a year in guaranteed student loans. Every Virginian will have access to an affordable higher education.

There is probably no quicker way to unlock the potential for economic growth in Virginia than to break the legislative logjam and pass a plan to fund transportation. My plan is honest and straightforward: we must have a dedicated, long-term funding stream.

All options and innovative ideas are on the table—except for raiding money from education.

Until we sit down and do the hard work of finding the right combination of proposals that can produce enough votes to pass a plan, we will continue to sit in gridlock as our transportation infrastructure crumbles around us.

I have supported many proposals during my time as a legislator and I will sign legislation to fix our transportation system that is a product of bipartisan compromise—as long as it does not cut school funding.

We all know we’re in tough economic times. Families are tightening their budgets and determining what they can do without. Government needs to do the same.

I will create a permanent Efficiency Improvement Office, headed by a director appointed from the business community. The office will conduct performance reviews of every agency, beginning with VITA.

And, we’re going to make sure every dollar in our state budget is spent for a reason.

Today, the budgeting process begins with what an agency or program received the previous year and then a fight breaks out over how large an increase is justified. When I am Governor, everyone is going to start from scratch. Every program, every agency will start from zero and must justify and validate every tax dollar they request.

This is my record and what I believe this election is about—bringing economic opportunity to every corner of the Commonwealth, a bipartisan approach to cutting spending and managing government, and a deep personal commitment to education. This has been my priority for 18 years. This is who I am, and this is what I will do as your Governor.

My opponent is a good person, and I honor the time he has spent in public service. But the differences between our visions for the Commonwealth are stark.

I will move Virginia forward….and he will take us back.

Nowhere is the difference between us more clear than on the economy. My approach is best illustrated by my support for Mark Warner’s 2004 bipartisan budget reform plan. My opponent opposed this historic budget agreement—which many in his own party supported. The plan was endorsed by Virginia’s business community and was backed by leaders in education, healthcare and law enforcement.

If my opponent wouldn’t support the most important budget agreement in Virginia’s recent history, what approach would he take?

Just recently he said he believes President Bush did a good job and he created —and I’m quoting here— “an economic revival in America.”

The fiscal policies of George Bush doubled the national debt and resulted in over 300,000 Virginians losing their jobs and 48,000 Virginia families losing their homes to foreclosure.

That’s not a revival, and I will not let my opponent take us back to this economic approach.

Our different approaches to fixing the economy are clear: I support the bipartisan approach that common-sense leaders demonstrated in 2004. My opponent opposed that plan, opposed moderates in his own party, and continues to voice support for the failed economic policies of the past.

As a legislator, my opponent consistently opposed plans to create jobs and opportunity. Earlier I mentioned the bill I patroned on the Governor’s Opportunity Fund that created 78,000 jobs in Virginia. My opponent voted against it —three times. But last month he announced that he now supports it.

That, my friends, is the definition of an election year conversion.

Now, let’s review our plans to jump start the economy. My plan provides a tax credit for every single job an employer creates.

Create a job, get a tax credit. It’s that simple.

My opponent? His plan takes a different approach: an employer must first create 50 new jobs to get a tax credit for number 51.

I don’t know too many small businesses that plan to hire more than 50 new employees.

And small businesses are what drive our economy. I’m all for giving the big guys tax credits, too—and my plan will—but I value the role small businesses have in our economy because 75% of new jobs are created by small businesses.

My plan is the only plan that provides small businesses with a needed tax credit for every job they create.

That’s my philosophy. My opponent’s plan looks a whole lot like failed Bush economic policy to me.
Virginia can’t afford to go back to that.

The choice is equally stark on the issue of education. I support innovation and accountability in the classroom. And, in 2004, I voted for the largest investment in education funding in the Commonwealth’s history. My opponent opposed it.

And it’s not just that one vote. My opponent repeatedly voted to cut funding to public education—for state aid increases, computer technology, teacher salary increases, and bond packages—all things I’ve voted for and actively supported.

I supported the 1996 budget—a “banner year for higher education in Virginia,” many observers said—while my opponent was one of just two delegates to oppose it.

I’ve been a true advocate for education at every key point in this state’s history for the last two decades—and my opponent has opposed progress every step of the way.

And, just last month, he proposed a transportation plan that raids $5-4 billion from education funding to pay for roads. $5.4 billion. Fixing our transportation infrastructure is a top priority, but taking money from schools to build roads will be a non-starter in a Deeds Administration.

This election is about creating economic opportunity in every corner of the commonwealth, and my opponent has a record of consistently opposing every chance to do so.

Virginia can’t afford to go back to that.

During his entire career, my opponent didn’t sponsor one bill – not a single bill — to create jobs through economic development or provide needed resources for education.

Instead, his public service has been a career-long pattern of focusing on social issues. He sponsored 35 bills in the General Assembly to restrict a woman’s right to choose. He introduced legislation to create a different “class” of marriage four separate times. He supported legislation allowing a pharmacist to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions. He supports vouchers for private schools. He opposes stem cell research and believes that government should interfere in a family’s most personal decisions like those of Terri Schiavo and Hugh Finn.

This is my opponent’s record. This single-minded crusade has been his priority and focus. He believes that his social agenda should come before sound public policy, and his record, his career in politics, reflects it.

Virginia can’t afford to go back to that.

We can’t afford to get mired down in an ideological crusade, and we can’t afford to replace our common-sense mainstream goals with his social agenda and failed economic approaches of the past.

As your next Governor, I will work in the tradition of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. I will be realistic and honest about the problems we face. I will reach across the aisle and bring people together to create long-term solutions to benefit the entire Commonwealth.

When I was young, my great Uncle Frank ran a summer camp, and he’d tell his campers every year, “Now boys, you are going to get out of this camp exactly what you put into it.” It took me awhile to understand the real life lesson he was giving us—you’re either all in, or you’re not in it at all.

That’s the kind of Governor I’ll be—all in, every day, working for you and with you to create economic opportunity for everyone.

That’s who I am. It’s what I know. It’s how I operate. My record and my priorities have always reflected it.
And that is what this campaign is about: keeping Virginia moving forward.

Thank you.

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