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Ask the Governor: Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell

Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell sat down Tuesday in the glass-enclosed nerve center for "Ask The Gov" and took questions on the Navy Yard shootings, a looming federal government shutdown, implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act and transportation.

  • Five of the 12 victims at the Navy Yard shooting last week were
    from Virginia and one of the guns used to kill them was legally purchased in the
    state, two days before.

    Aaron Alexis, the shooter, had a record of mental health and criminal issues, but
    maintained a security clearance that allowed him access to the building where the
    rampage took place.

    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell did not mince words when he spoke to these facts on
    WTOP's "Ask the Governor" show Tuesday morning.

    "Mental health was at the forefront of this event."

    McDonnell sat down in the glass-enclosed nerve center for the monthly call-in show
    and took questions on the Navy Yard shootings, a looming federal government
    shutdown, implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act and transportation.

    The first topic he addressed was gun control in his state.

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  • From right to left, WTOP's Hank Silverberg, Mark Lewis and Gov. Bob McDonnell in WTOP's studios for our monthly call-in show. (WTOP/Sarah Beth Hensley)

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  • Listen to the full broadcast here.

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  • Hi all. Gov. McDonnell is here and we're about to get started.
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  • Speaking on Navy Yard tragedy:

    Five out of the 12 that were killed were from Virginia and we've had these catastrophic events in Virginia Tech and other places. It's important to look at all the details of the events, whether its mental health, security screening, gun control. I've talked with experts and they've come up with some ways to make our schools safer and there is more to come next year. But it's heartbreaking. I think it comes down to mental health.
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  • Caller: John from Annandale: I would like to know how you feel about the fact that one of the guns used was purchased in Virginia?

    We're a state that believes in the 2nd amendment and allows people that are otherwise prohibited to buy firearms. I can say that in cases like this, we certainly will do a full review of various laws in Va. Esp. our mental health laws. The shooter had significant mental health problems. We did that after Sandy Hook and we have put significatnly more funding in our mental health system. There are any number of ways to lawfully purchase a firearm so looking after the fact and saying the gun -- that undermines the issue. I hate as people are grieving to jump to conclusions.
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  • What about a waiting period?

    I have yet to see any conclusive data that a waiting period would work. Virginia has one of the lowest crime rates and recidivism rate. We have a law-abiding society generally. I think it's simplistic to say a waiting period would have prevented this. A week later jumping to conclusions doesn't usually offer solutions.

    If someone was lawfully able to purchase a firearm because of what was known about that person at the time and they weren't disqualified, then those purchases are lawful. I think the real tough work is to mitigate this kind of behavior by strengthening our mental health system and the culture to fight against this time of violene.To me that's where the greatest benefits are going to be had. It's a discussion we always have about security vs. freedom. It's worth a continued discussion on how can we do better.
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  • Response:

    Over the last 20 years, it's gotten so much better. We constantly have discussions about how we support one another in this region. Our state police always is reviewing and correcting and strengthening the plans we've got.  I'm very proud of our law enforcement team. I thought the dc police did a good job, backed up by multiple federal agencies. There is a lot to look at at, and that will be done by all three jurisdictions. But people in our society sometimes do something that is violent. It's hard to believe someone could take out a weapon and fire indiscriminately. Absolutely defies logic,
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  • Gov McDonnell says review of mental health laws needs to be focus in wake of Navy Yard shooting. Shooter bought gun in #VA @WTOP #AskThe
  • Federal gov't shutdown possibility:

    Deja Vu all over again. We've seen this movie before. As a governor who has balanced four budgets and racked up $2B in surpluses -- we're constantly shocked that people can't get their act together in DC. In Va. I think we've had some success because people have tuned down the political rhetoric and worked to make solutions. We have a crisis in spending, and I'm disappointed the president hasn't taken on entitlement spending. We need to have a serious discussion of what we can afford in America. But the new debt and spending during the Obama administration -- we can't keep on this trend. Somehow, Rs and Ds need to realize they need to work together and find a solution and not have this drama.

    We should find ways to get things done but we should not hold federal workers hostage to that. It's going to take strong leadership in both parties to get this done. This is the fifth year we haven't had a budget. Living in Va., that's unthinkable. Until the president realizes we have to

    I think Obamacare is a bad policy. But at this point it is the law and we are going to implement it in a way that causes the least harm in Virginia. I think in time it will collapse under its own wait.
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  • Is Va. ready for Obamacare?

    I think the federal gov't is ready. We'll find out soon because it goes into effect soon. I think there will be a few glitches, but we'll see. With regard to potential shutdown, we have put contingency plans in place to either supplant state funding or furloughs. So we're prepared.
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  • Unemployment up in Va.:

    I do think sequestration is having an impact. We've got a strong reliance on the navy. We still have the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast, but we are ticking up and that's not the way to go.
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  • @GovernorVA , Your thoughts on Obama's healthcare are true considering your out of touch with the less fortunate @WTOP
  • Gov @BobMcDonnell says on @WTOP the state has put contingency plans in place in case of a federal govt shutdown
  • Caller question -- Gov has said we should boost mental health, but doesn't like entitlements or Obamacare. So what specifically does he suggest?

    That's a question every state has to make within the scope of their budget. In Va., we've made improvements and reduced the size and scope of government. So by making decisions on what is important, we've been able to put money in the right places. The federal government has to do that. We've chosen to make mental health a priority. We found a way to make it work in our state.
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  • Caller - Steve in Stafford:

    Reforms before Medicaid is expanded. What role can gov. play?

    The short answer is I would have no authority based on the legislation this year. It is tasked with evaluating a significant series of reforms that must be met before the expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid has expanded so much. Until we do some reform, find ways to create some accountability and drop these bills down to the taxpayer, I think it's not responsible to expand it.
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  • Confidence in federal exchange to handle Medicaid volume:

    I don't have a lot of confidence in the federal government. I think the greatest thing this nation can do is have a rebirth of federalism and have the states on the front lines. I think more and more authority has been put into federal government that should have been left to the states. Most states have opted to not have a state exchange.
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  • Room for state involvement:

    Yes, that's written into the law to handle some of these plans. I will we have been working with the federal government to do the best we can. Even though I don't like this law, we are working to do the best we can. The exchange will be up and running soon so there will be 3 months to make decisions.
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  • @WTOP Gov. Why not call your delegates to call for a constitution congress to enforce the 10th Amendment and stop ex orders.#askthe
  • #WTOP #Askthe Since DCJS took over the licensure of tow truck drivers(Driver authorization doccument) has anyone considered a process review
  • Is the Governor saying that President Obama and Democrats are solely responsible for the stalemate?
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  • Thanks, Governor McDonnell, for taking questions. My question is about the legislative commission established this year to sign off on reforms before Medicaid is expanded in Virginia. If you and Secretary Hazel believe the reform conditions have been met and the commission does not act (or if they vote no), what authority does the executive have to expand Medicaid, and will you act to do so before your term ends?
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  • Caller -- Doris

    The Harry Nice bridge. It's between Va. and Md. The traffic is so terrible. What are you and the Md. governor's plans to alleviate this?

    Transportation is going to dramatically over the next few years. As you know after 27 years of talking about it, I got a transportation bill through this past year. So on top of the 2011 bond bill, and a new infrastructure bank, we're going to be able to do a lot of things. I can tell you specifically about the bridge. Input from citizens saying what they think will make a big difference. The priority is for congestion relief and economic development.
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  • Bi-county parkway. Some say McDonnell admin. is pushing to get this done fast before gov. leaves office -- so much so that a congressman from Utah is involved because of the Manassass battlefield. Isn't there another way to relieve traffic without building that highway?

    That project was approved years and years ago with broad support, its just there was no money to get it done. The Commonwealth transportation board ultimately makes those decisions and they base those decisions on several factors. I'm just trying to get stuff done. I am tired of excuses and delays and not having the resources. My goal is to get this done.

    What about shutting down 234?

    Somebody doesn't want virtually every project. The government gets sued every time something like this is done. It will be on a phased basis. We will respect the integrity of the battlefield, but we are gonna get stuff done.
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  • Tolls on Dulles Greenway. What can be done to keep toll rates in line?

    Under the contract, we don't control that directly. Now that we've got this significant influx of money, we're going to be able to build things with less reliance on tolls. But the last couple years, the way we've been able to get things done is through tolls.

    Should we be worried about beltway express lanes not getting the traffic? Will tolls raise there as well?

    I know the vendor managing that project is continuing to find ways to work on that. I think they're very well aware of that and they're going to be able to make that work.
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  • Eve of pivotal gubernatorial debate in Va. Seems like voters aren't thrilled with either candidate and looking toward libertarian. What's your take?

    I'm supporting Ken Cuccinelli. He's a very smart guy. Got good ideas. But it's a very competitive race. I was fortunate to win by 18 percent four years ago. I think those days are gone. I'd like to see both candidates talk more on kitchen table issues. Ultimately it comes down to winning independent voters. And what they really care about is who is going to make their life better.

    I'll do what the campaign asks me to do. Every candidate has to decide how to win their race, but I'm doing what I can to help. I've seen polls that say different things. All I can say is transferred intent doesn't win elections. What people want to know is 'what are you the candidate going to do for my family, for my state?'
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  • Cost to taxpayers great for case against Gov.'s former cook. Looking back, are the costs for all this too high for stolen groceries?

    I completely disagree with the way the question has been asked. There is a small staff at the governors mansion, and it's very sad when a personal member of your staff removes government property from the residence. But there are times when there are conflicts. The governor is entitled to have legal representation. Very infrequently conflicts come up and outside legal support is required. I can tell you the AG office has said the rates negotiated are well below the market rates for these sorts of things. And yeah, I wish the chef hadn't made that decision and we could have saved that money. It's unfortunate that it's happened. It's happened with every governor, and we do what we can to keep those costs as low as we can.
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  • According to Wikipedia, the Nice bridge is maintained by the Maryland Transportation Authority, not Virginia.
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  • That's a wrap, folks. Thanks for joining us today and we hope you'll come back next month when Gov. McDonnell returns.
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  • Gov. Bob McDonnell sits down for WTOP's monthly "Ask the Governor" call-in show. (WTOP/Sarah Beth Hensley)

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  • On the WTOP "Ask the Governor" program in July, Gov. McDonnell claimed that his and the First Lady's promotion of Virginia companies is very common and that hosting a product launch party for Star Scientific at the Governor's Mansion was nothing out of the ordinary. The Governor's former spokesman as since disparaged the credibility and integrity of Star Scientific's CEO Jonnie Williams and stated Mr. Williams has been in trouble with the government his entire career. What is the vetting process for a company seeking promotion by the Governor and First Lady, and who determines which companies qualify?
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