Gov. McAuliffe says city schools have priority over Confederate statues

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RICHMOND, Va - During his monthly radio appearance on WRVA Radio, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe appeared to change his tune about removing Confederate monuments in Virginia.

McAuliffe, who called on localities to remove Confederate symbols shortly after violence in Charlottesville, said Thursday cities should decide for themselves whether or not to remove Confederate statues.  During his appearance, McAuliffe specifically addressed Monument Avenue, where five large Confederate statues sit, saying Richmond leaders should spend taxpayer money on education instead.

"Listen, if I'm the Mayor of Richmond or on the city council, I'm facing a tough decision. Do I spend, I don't know, $5-10 million taking something down when I got schools to do?  My first priority has got to be schools," McAuliffe said.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, a political protege of McAuliffe, recently expanded the scope of the Monument Avenue Commission to include possible removal of the Confederate statues on city property.  The Commission was originally tasked with adding context to Monument Avenue, but their task did not include looking at removing monuments.

When asked by a caller about adding context to Monument Avenue, McAuliffe said he supported the idea.

"We have to keep everyone right here in this beautiful city. That's their biggest challenge. I would agree with Valerie (the caller), let's go ahead and put some context to these things and move forward," McAuliffe said.