Cut college costs. Too many Virginia students still can’t afford to attend our public colleges and universities. We need to ensure that any qualified Virginia student can access these institutions. Students should not have to shoulder the burden of large tuition increases, and every student should have an option to go without oppressive debt.
Invest in STEAM. As our technology industry grows, so do the number of good jobs in technology—and our schools should reflect that. We need to expand computer programming and expand STEAM curriculum to help train Virginia kids so they can take advantage of business growth and job creation in the tech industry.
Expand access to apprenticeships and training. Not every Virginian wants—or needs—to attend a four year college or university, but every Virginian should have the opportunity to gain further education or training. That means encouraging participation in industry certification programs, community colleges, and apprenticeship programs, and other advanced training. Ralph is committed to working with both businesses and community colleges to ensure there is a local training option for every available job. He also believes the final two years of high school should provide apprenticeships and job training for students who do not want to attend a four year college.
Build a school-to-work pipeline. Ralph believes our education system must create a pipeline from high school to community college, higher education, or a good paying job. Not only would this encourage students to stay in school and graduate, but it would also encourage employers to locate in Virginia, a commonwealth with good schools and a skilled workforce waiting for them.
Balance the budget. Ralph knows that businesses are attracted to well-governed states. He was in the Virginia Senate when the Great Recession hit, and he voted to cut spending by $4.6 billion to keep our budget balanced. He also supported tax relief for Virginia homeowners. Governors of both parties have conducted government efficiency reviews, and Ralph supports another complete audit of state operations because taxpayers deserve to know their money is being spent wisely.
Protect LGBT equality. Hate isn’t a Virginia value. Ralph will be a brick wall against the discrimination of the Trump Administration. Ralph knows every person deserves to be treated equally—no matter who they are or who they love. Unfortunately, Republicans too often disagree. Ralph has a long history of standing up for LGBT Virginians, from opposing bathroom bills that discriminate against transgender people, to to fighting to protect LGBT people from workplace and adoption discrimination. Not only is protecting LGBT equality the right thing to do, building an inclusive, fair Virginia is good for business.
Women’s health. Donald Trump has made his first priority as president to roll back women’s access to reproductive healthcare and to take us back to the days before Roe v. Wade. Ralph is committed to fighting for Virginia women, especially their right to quality, affordable healthcare. As a physician, Ralph believes women’s healthcare choices are personal and best left between a woman and her doctor—not politicians in Richmond or Washington, DC. Ralph will fight for women so they can decide when to start a family, and he is an advocate for expanding access to long-acting reversible contraceptives like IUDs, as well as protecting a woman’s right to choose. As a state senator, Ralph led the fight against the invasive transvaginal ultrasound mandate and opposed legislation that would limit access to women’s health clinics. Ralph is proud to have a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood.
Teacher pay. Teacher pay in Virginia is now well below the national average, and we’re losing good teachers because of it. This is contributing to inequality in our education system, as rural and less affluent school districts cannot afford to supplement state funding. Ralph will work with Democrats and Republicans alike to attack inequality in education by raising pay for teacher—a bipartisan priority in Richmond.
Rural Virginia. Ralph grew up in rural Virginia and is an avid outdoorsman, gun owner, hunter, and sports shooter from his days growing up in Accomack, attending VMI, and serving in the military. He knows rural Virginians are hard workers—and that we can do much more to bring good jobs to rural Virginia. Ralph will bring broadband internet to every Virginia community. He’ll fight for teacher pay raises and fair funding for rural public schools, and when Governor Northam is recruiting jobs, rural Virginia will be first on his mind and in his heart.
Jobs for veterans. In the past year, under Governor McAuliffe and Lt. Governor Northam, Virginia has doubled the number of veterans placed in jobs through the Virginia Values Veterans program. Ralph also supported legislation to establish a program to connect returning military medics to private sector healthcare jobs. Previously, these men and women would go unemployed because their medical experience was not recognized in civilian society, while employers left jobs unfilled, especially EMT positions. As an Army doctor, Ralph knows medics are highly qualified for such positions, having training and field experience with a variety of traumatic wounds. Ralph will continue to grow these programs until there is no longer any veteran joblessness in Virginia, just as veteran homelessness has been eradicated.