McDonnell puts education and transportation first - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

McDonnell puts education and transportation first ahead of final session

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Governor Bob McDonnell had his last chance tonight to encourage the General Assembly to enact broad reforms that would last long after he leaves office. The governor is hoping to stake his legacy on two key issues, transportation and education.

The governor is constantly aware of history.

"The Virginia General Assembly has met in this building for 220 years," he started is speech with. "The Speaker (William Howell) was just a young boy during that first session," he joked.

Wednesday night he pushed his fellow lawmakers to enact reforms that would stand the test of time.

"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," he said.

On education, McDonnell called for an increase in funding but also a system where schools would be graded on an A-F scale. He also called for the expansion of charter schools.

Building on his proposal from Tuesday, McDonnell challenged the General Assembly to take up his transportation proposal.

"Do not send me a budget that does not include new transportation funding," he said. "We are all out of excuses. We must act now."

The governor also spent a lot of time pointing to his administration's successes, like balancing the budget and keeping unemployment low.

Afterward, General Assembly members said there is still work to do.

"I think there might be some room on the education proposals but I think the devil is going to be in the details," said Del. Jennifer McLellan (D- Richmond) "Obviously there is some of what he proposed in education that we won't find common ground on.."

House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) conceded the McDonnell agenda is ambitious and may not all get done, but it is worth a try.

"The thing I like about him is that he is bold," Cox said. "If he promises you that he will do it and then he is going to put it out there."

Among his many proposals tonight McDonnell called for the complete and automatic restoration of civil rights, which would including voting, for all non-violent felons after they complete their sentence.

Currently those ex-offenders must apply to have their rights restored.

With that issue and others, the next 45 days could determine Bob McDonnell's place in history.

You can read the entire speech on our political blog, DecisionVirginia.com

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