Habeeb: Increased accountability needed
This year’s General Assembly session got off to a tumultuous start even before legislators officially convened Wednesday as Gov. Robert McDonnell announced he’d seek to do away with the gasoline tax.
But with a statewide uproar threatening to engulf the session, Del. Greg Habeeb, a Salem Republican whose district includes parts of Montgomery, Roanoke and Craig counties, said Tuesday that he’d try to keep local issues from being forgotten.
Habeeb took a moment to respond to questions answered in last Sunday’s Burgs by Dels. Nick Rush and Joseph Yost, Republicans whose districts also include parts of Montgomery County.
What are your top three priorities for this year’s General Assembly session?
My priorities are the issues that are important to the people of the New River and Roanoke Valleys – creating an environment where jobs can grow, building a stronger school system and crafting a smarter state government.
By keeping taxes low and making sure we have a sound regulatory policy, we can continue to attract companies to Virginia. The growing regional connection between the Roanoke and New River Valleys makes our area particularly attractive to businesses. I will continue to work with Gov. McDonnell and my colleagues from our area to create new opportunities for our community.
Part of what makes our community so attractive are our solid school systems. I believe that accountability, flexibility and local control make up the recipe for good schools. That’s why I introduced legislation to put local schools in charge of their calendars, create flexibility in SOL testing and to create a system where schools are judged based on the impact they have on their students.
Finally, I know that government has a place and role to play. There are good government programs and there are good regulations. But I believe we should always be looking at ways to make government more efficient and effective. I have introduced legislation to put extra checks on bureaucrats who write rules and regulations. Increased accountability will mean a better government for all of us.
Montgomery County’s budget problems prompted lots of discussion last year. Can the state help the county? Are there measures you’ll push to make it easier for the county to afford schools and other services?
County governments all across Virginia, just like the state government, have felt the pinch of the economic slowdown. One thing we can do in Richmond to ease the burden and end unfunded mandates on localities. That was a major issue during the last legislative session and will be again this year. Also, Gov. McDonnell has proposed this year ending “local aid reversion” – a budget gimmick that required localities to send money back to the state government each year. These are just two examples of our efforts to make state government work better for local governments.
What are needs from other parts of your districts that you plan to address during this session?
The needs in other parts of my district are very similar to those in Montgomery County – people want a business climate that supports jobs, an education system that is best for our children and a government that works efficiently and effectively.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1669
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