Looking to reverse a slide in new polls, Republican Ken Cuccinelli claimed Wednesday his Democratic foe in Virginia's governor's race, Terry McAuliffe, would run up at least $12 billion in new state spending in four years.
And to do that, Cuccinelli alleged at news conference in Newport News, McAuliffe must either raise taxes by about $1,700 a year per household or fail to deliver on his promises.
McAuliffe has repeatedly declined to put a price tag on promised initiatives, inviting Cuccinelli's late-in-the-game attack. Pressed during the candidates' televised debate two weeks ago, McAuliffe said he'd have to first determine what available resources are, then tailor a program around it.
His solution for additional resources has been expanding Medicaid in Virginia, saying state government would reap more than $21 billion over seven years in federal support for opening the program to 400,000 uninsured Virginia working poor. In addition, he contends, expanding Medicaid and implementing the federal Affordable Care Act would create more than 30,000 new health care jobs in Virginia.
McAuliffe notes that the federal government is obligated under the 2010 health reform law to pay the entire cost for the first two years of expanding the shared federal-state program that helps the needy, blind, elderly, disabled and low-income households with children. It would pay 90 percent of it thereafter.
Cuccinelli's analysis portrayed McAuliffe's initiatives as exorbitant and alarming.
He cites two independent economic studies that estimate Virginia would reap only about one-tenth of the $500 million annual windfall that McAuliffe forecasts from Medicaid expansion.
“He doesn't explain where that figure comes from. He just uses it,” Cuccinelli said.
When it comes to spending, Cuccinelli projects that McAuliffe would need nearly $1.3 billion a year to expand pre-kindergarten programs, $866 million to hold down public college costs, $700 million to bring teacher pay to the national average and $225 million to beef up community colleges. In addition, Cuccinelli says McAuliffe would need $1 billion over four years to finish four-lane expansion for U.S. 58, which runs along Virginia's southern border from the Atlantic Ocean to Kentucky, and extend light rail service from Norfolk to Virginia Beach.
“He has no idea how he'll pay for pre-K, no idea how he'll pay for his university research proposals, passenger rail, rural health care, mental health care, public safety or workforce development,” Cuccinelli said.
Even before Cuccinelli's news conference began, Virginia Democrats began pointing to Cuccinelli's plans as confirmation that he would attempt to gut this year's first-in-a-generation transportation funding reform law.
“Cuccinelli's announcement included fabricated numbers and more of the same attacks on investing in transportation infrastructure that Virginians have seen from him for years,” said McAuliffe campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin.
Cuccinelli begins televising a new ad statewide on Thursday that restates his claim taxes would increase by an average of $1,700 per family.
Polls during the past week show McAuliffe stretching a race that was about even into a slight lead four weeks before election day. Some of the polling reflects voters assigning slightly more blame for the congressional stalemate that has shut down the federal government to Republicans than Democrats.
Also, McAuliffe along with allied independent organizations such as Planned Parenthood Action and NextGen Climate Action have buried Cuccinelli in television advertising. Cuccinelli has raised only about half the campaign cash as McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman and master fundraiser for the presidential campaigns of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Cuccinelli got a financial boost last week with about $500 million in support from the Republican Governors Association.