?Yes? on state bonds

Overshadowed by the fight over raising Northern Virginia’s sales taxes is a set of statewide bond referenda which deserve more attention than is being given this election season.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has made good use of bond sales throughout its history and carries an excellent bond rating to accompany this method of financing needed state projects. This year, the voters will be asked on Nov. 5 to authorize two separate bond issues. One will provide $900 million to pay for repairs and construction at state colleges while a $119 million bond will be offered to fix up our state parks. Both bonds are reasonable investments in our future and deserve to be approved on Election Day.

While the Virginia General Assembly has had a tough time approving a comprehensive college renovation funding plan over the past couple of years, the bond package will go far in finishing many of the projects needed to keep our colleges competitive. With money in the state treasury scarce these days, the college bonds will help our state colleges during a time when dwindling state funds have necessitated increased tuition and fees. Increased enrollment has strained many of our colleges and money for added classrooms and dorms will certainly pay off for our next generation of college students.

Locally, the bond will provide more than $79 million for George Mason University — including construction of new academic buildings at the Fairfax and Arlington campuses. With funding for these two projects out of the way, the bonds could clear the slate for new investments here at the Prince William campus.

There is also $159 million planned for Virginia’s community colleges including $29 million for improvements at five campuses of Northern Virginia Community College.

The parks bond will provide $119 million to create three new state parks, add land to existing parks and make improvements at parks statewide.

There is more than $20 million set aside for improving state parks here in Northern Virginia including piers and picnic areas at Leesylvania State Park. The park features some of the greatest views of the upper Potomac region. The park is also a favorite dropping off point for recreational fishermen and the pier improvements will help the park keep up with the demand. Other area parks will also receive bond money including Mason Neck — which is one of the prime nesting sites for bald eagles in our area.

Approving the college and parks bonds will also allow the commonwealth to take advantage of low interest rates. While it’s obvious that our colleges and parks need an infusion of cash to pay for improvements, waiting a few more years will only allow greater deterioration and risk higher costs through increased interest rates.

It’s time to invest.

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