Paul's take on the issues in his own words:
Support Transit Options on Richmond Highway/U.S. 1
My top priority is securing the funding to keep transportation improvements along the Richmond Highway corridor moving along as fast as possible. Last October officials signed a resolution recommending that Rt. 1 be expanded to six-lanes with multi-use paths, a median with a dedicated bus rapid transit system to Woodbridge, and a two-station Yellow Line Metro extension to Hybla Valley. The $2 million for the study that resulted in this recommendation was secured by Sen. Toddy Puller and Del. Scott Surovell. I will work with Sen. Surovell and other legislators to secure $4 million for the next phase for environmental reviews and preliminary engineering.
Ensuring fair redistricting is essential to maintaining a healthy democracy and when complying with the requirements set forth by the Virginia constitution. I know that fair redistricting is possible because I have been a part of it. In 2001 and 2011, I was a member on the advisory task force on District Reapportionment of Fairfax County.
Our Commonwealth would best be served by removing the partisan element from the redistricting process and support efforts to institute nonpartisan redistricting.
Increase Teachers’ Salaries/ Engage Parents in School Decisions
Great public schools are the cornerstone of a vibrant, thriving community. I support a meaningful increase in pay for our hard-working teachers to continue to attract and maintain the best educators in the country for our children. Right now, we are losing teachers to Arlington and other higher-paying neighboring jurisdictions. Fairfax school enrollment, especially along the Richmond Highway corridor, is growing fast and our facilities desperately need to catch up. I will fight for more state funding as well as work with local elected officials to find more funding. I agree with Delegate Krupicka's effort to raise our cigarette tax rate from $0.30 to $2.00 per pack and dedicate that revenue to our schools. Such a "sin" tax would provide an estimated increase of up to an additional $500 million a year for our schools. (Only one state has a lower cigarette tax rate than Virginia.) Most importantly, as a parent with a child in the Fairfax County Public School system, I believe the community must always be involved in a transparent, engaging process regarding any changes to our local school boundaries and new school construction projects. I am a strong proponent of expanding access to early childhood education, preschool, and quality childcare. Every dollar spent on education creates a greater savings down the line, and makes Virginia stronger.
Fair State Funding for Our Public Schools
Current State school funding formulas favor rural localities whose elected officials control the House of Delegates. The existing formulas give too much weight to income and property values and do not adequately take into consideration the higher cost of running schools in Northern Virginia or the diversity of our student population. The state’s education funding needs to be updated to reflect our unique challenges in Fairfax County.
Raise the Minimum Wage
Nobody working full-time in Virginia should be forced to live in poverty. As a longtime charity executive, I recognize that working people cannot survive on the current minimum wage, especially in this region. I strongly support legislation to raise the Virginia minimum wage to at least $10 an hour as soon as possible. Increasing the minimum wage will improve Virginia’s economy and reward the hard work of our friends and neighbors in the district.
Offer an Alternative to Predatory Lending
Anyone driving down Richmond Highway through the 44th Delegate District can't help but notice the large number of car title loan lenders; it is out of control. These lenders charge astronomical interest rates and prey on people in the most desperate of circumstances. I will work to find funding for alternative lending opportunities by working with local nonprofits and the faith community to come up with creative low-interest small-dollar loans.
Honor and Support Our Veterans
Veterans serve our country in different and heroic ways. These men and women return from their tours of duty rightfully proud of their service, and we owe them a debt of gratitude, not just lip service. I will work to provide veterans with access to high-quality jobs in the 44th district, affordable housing, and will help ensure veterans have access to the comprehensive healthcare they need to live healthy, successful lives.
Expanding Medicaid in Virginia is common sense, and the right thing to do. I will work with fellow legislators to ensure that Medicaid expansion is a budget priority. No one should go without health care.
Ensure Equal Access to Health Care
All people have a right to decide for themselves what to with their body. This includes women who choose to terminate a pregnancy for any reason. It is a deeply personal decision that should be between a woman and her doctor. I am staunchly pro-choice and believe it is wrong to stigmatize women who have an abortion.
One of my top priorities in the legislature will be to work with other stakeholders to repeal Virginia's restrictive TRAP laws, which infringes upon women's' right to equal access to healthcare, as well as the requirement that women have mandatory ultra sounds and are forced to wait 24 hours for a procedure. This places an undue burden on women who are forced to travel several hours across the Commonwealth to their nearest abortion provider.
Further, I will vote to maintain and increase funding to healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood, which provide critical care to women across Virginia, including mammogram screenings and STI testing.
I support funding of renewable energy grant programs and incentives to assist the development of new energy businesses and technology. Any efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through efficiency, conservation, and education is critical. A clean, safe environment is part of the debt we owe the next generation of Virginians. I will carefully weigh the environmental impact of all legislation before the House of Delegates and support legislation to clean up and beautify our most precious natural resources, especially our Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Equality for LGBT Virginians
The mission of full LGBT equality does not stop with marriage equality. Too many of our friends, family, and neighbors still live with systemic inequality, and even the fear of physical violence. I support amending the current Virginia hate crimes legislation to include gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation in the list of protected classes, and support equality for every Virginian. As an adoptive parent, I know how discrimination, which is so hurtful, must never be allowed to keep loving potential parents from the wonderful opportunity to adopt a child. I will fight discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, or religion.
Support Mental Health Care
Mental health services in Virginia are seriously underfunded. In addition to supporting full funding for these vital services, I support projects to increase the availability of counseling services for children who have witnessed domestic violence.
Champion Affordable Housing
Safe, decent housing that is affordable is the foundation upon which stable families and vibrant, diverse communities are built. Our economy can grow when workers of all incomes have opportunities to live near their jobs, and businesses can recruit and retain employees. All Virginians deserve a safe, affordable place to call home, but too many of our citizens live in housing that is unsafe, overcrowded or simply too expensive for the income that they earn. Affordable housing is also the key to preventing and ending homelessness in the Commonwealth. Virginia should join the 39 other states across the country who have established housing trust funds to address the unmet housing needs in the Commonwealth.
End Human Trafficking
Sex trafficking of youth of all races and economic backgrounds is growing in our area, and is even more profitable than drug dealing. Virginia ranks fifth in the country for human trafficking. Trafficking victimizes the most vulnerable of our community. The Fairfax County Police Department estimate logs two victims per week. My eight years of service on the Family and Children’s Trust of Virginia has uniquely qualified me to work with fellow legislators to address this crisis.
Give Dreamers and Immigrants with New Legal Status In-State Tuition
As the son of an immigrant mother and the grandchild of immigrants on my father’s side, I know first hand how important opportunity can be to a family, and that our country is truly a nation of immigrants. I favor providing in-state tuition eligibility for the children President Obama recently granted legal status. I support common-sense immigration policies like this that allow law enforcement to focus on keeping families safe, keeping families together, rewarding those who follow the rules, and allowing those who have arrived in Virginia to build a better life to have the same opportunity that was extended to the rest of us.
Increase Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Funds from TANF assist Virginians who most need the help, but benefits have been increased only once since 1985. I support tying increases in state TANF funding to inflation so benefits don’t shrink over time.
Stop Gun Violence
Gun violence has shattered too many Virginia families. I support sensible gun safety legislation and will support legislation that renews the state’s one-a-month limit on handgun purchases and a requirement that buyers at gun shows undergo background checks. Also, I support keeping guns away from people convicted of crimes related to domestic violence and to revoke concealed-handgun permits for parents who are behind on child-support payment
Support Womens’ Rights
Just as Delegate Surovell has done, I will introduce legislation to support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. It was first introduced in 1923 and passed Congress in 1972. It is three states short of approval as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is time. And, if it is still Virginia law next year I will strongly support repealing the law that requires women to get an ultrasound before having an abortion.
Assure Voting Rights for All
Every year House of Delegates Republicans propose new ways to keep people from voting. This year they propose that people provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote. Last year they passed a bill that requires all voters to produce a photo ID. We should make voting as easy as possible for citizens in Virginia. I favor expanded early voting for all and I will oppose any efforts to restrict voting rights.
It will be an honor to represent the citizens of the 44th Delegate District in the Virginia House of Delegates.