Even before the legislature arrived here, McDonnell (R) decided to put off the vital question of how to find the billions of dollars needed to repair and improve the state's roads. You'll remember he was quite vocal about the topic during the campaign, boasting about his multi-point plan that everybody could find on his Web site. It turned out it wasn't as easy as he suggested.Wow, governing a state is "more complicated" that just making breezy, pie-in-the-sky campaign promises? Who woulda thunk it? :)
There's also no sign of how he's going to pay for another whopper of a promise, to expand colleges and universities by 100,000 degrees over 15 years. He's won approval for proposals to promote job growth and charter schools, but they're modest and mostly amount to window dressing.
For example, one of McDonnell's best-known campaign proposals was to sell the state's ABC liquor stores and spend the proceeds on roads. Some top legislators expected he'd propose that in January.
But when one of his transition teams looked at the issue in December, it decided quickly that the matter required a lot more study. What sort of companies are going to buy the stores, and under what regulation? How does the state make up for losing more than $100 million a year that the stores generate? How does it prevent unsightly private stores from popping up in places where they aren't wanted?
"It turned out to be a whole lot more complicated than just selling the stores," said Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax), who was part of the study group. "We started working on it, and we said there's just no way that with the three or four weeks that we had before the bills were due that we were ever going to figure this out."
Of course, none of this is the least bit surprising to anyone who examined McDonnell's campaign promises carefully and didn't just fall for his sweet-talking, all-gain-no-pain rhetoric. A key moment for me was listening to former Governor Linwood Holton in September 2009. Among other things, Holton predicted: 1) "There will be no sale of the ABC system in Virginia as long as the General Assembly of Virginia exists, they will not permit the sale of a source of revenue that produces $100 million a year for them to use for schools and other public needs"; and 2) "[Revenues from oil drilling] couldn't possibly bring us a dime within the next 10 years...oil profits is a false promise."
Both of those assertions by Holton are 100% accurate, yet Bob McDonnell's "Big Lie" (or is it "self-delusion?") continues, with a statement issued just yesterday that McDonnell "will allocate 80% of future offshore royalties and revenues to transportation and the remaining 20% to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, which researches and develops renewable energy solutions." Only one problem with that: WHAT "future offshore royalties and revenues."
As Chap Petersen pointed out a few weeks ago, this is "a fraud wrapped in a chimera concealed within a pyramid scheme" and "a train going nowhere." The fact is, there may not even be any oil off Virginia's coast, and even if there is, it may not make economic sense to recover, and even if it does, the revenues might not even go to Virginia, and even if they do, it might be many years into the future, and even... Anyway, you get the point. The question is, does Bob McDonnell get the point, is he willfully ignorant, or is he simply finding that when campaign rhetoric meets reality, one of them has to give, and it's never, ever reality. Perhaps it's time, as Robert McCartney suggests, that Bob McDonnell "look again at his [own] Web site."