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Posted on 02/23/2013 1:15:43 PM PST by Perdogg
Today, Republicans and Democrats joined together to pass the first new significant sustainable transportation funding and reform bill in Virginia in 27 years. Crafted and led by Republicans, the bill received the votes of over 60% of legislators in both houses.
Virginians worked together across party and regional lines to find common ground to solve one of our Commonwealths most intractable problems. We got results. And the result is $3.5 billion in new transportation funding over the next 5 years, an estimated 35% reduction in the tax on gas at the pump, a shorter commute for you, and the strengthening of Virginias economic competitiveness.
This bill is a compromise. It had to be. As you know the House of Delegates has a strong Republican majority. But the Senate is tied, 20-20, and the Lieutenant Governor cannot vote on a transportation funding bill. That means to get any major bill passed, everyone would have to find common ground. The nature of a compromise is no one gets every policy they want. There are things I like and dont like in this bill, Im sure its the same for you too, but it solves a longstanding problem after years and years of inaction. For 27 years youve sat in traffic as too many have waited for a perfect bill. That failure to act has cost you and the Commonwealth dearly.
Every year that Richmond has failed to act has added up to a bigger and bigger hidden transportation tax that you are paying. The Texas Transportation Institute found that our failure to approve new transportation funding, and the resulting congestion, costs every motorist in Northern Virginia $1400 a year; every driver in Virginia Beach $877 a year; and every commuter in Richmond $581 a year. Your commute has gotten longer as political positions have gotten more divided. Every pothole youve hit, and bill for repairs youve received, is a result of the chronic failure of lawmakers to find a solution and pass it. Those are hidden taxes that youve been paying for years.
Virginias economy depends upon our transportation system. Without good roads, rail, transit and bridges we cannot attract the new businesses that will create the good-paying jobs our citizens need and deserve. A continued failure to address transportation would leave the Commonwealth less competitive economically, shrink our tax base and endanger our well-earned reputation as the best state in the nation in which to do business. In fact, just last year CNBC dropped Virginia to 3rd in its annual ranking of Best States for Business in large part because of our repeated inability to agree on how to properly fund transportation. We plummeted from 10th to 33rd in the specific category of Transportation and Infrastructure. That is unacceptable. I ran and was blessed to be elected on a pledge to make Virginia a jobs-magnet and do everything I could to help our state attract more employers so our citizens could get the good jobs they need and deserve. This transportation plan helps us do that. Conservatives believe we must grow our economy by allowing the private sector to thrive and create. We believe in paying as you go and in not running up high levels of debt. That is how you create new revenue. But that cant happen if we dont provide private-sector job creators with the infrastructure they must have to be successful.
As a result of this plan, thousands of construction and maintenance projects around the state will be funded, from widening I-64 between Newport News and Williamsburg, widening Route 28 in Northern Virginia, bringing down tolls on the Dulles Toll Road and advancing the Silver Line, bringing Amtrak service to Roanoke, and helping to build the Coalfields Expressway in Southwest Virginia. (You can see a full list of projects that will be funded by this bill here.) Thousands of new jobs will be created. Before this vote it was projected that by the year 2018 we would have been transferring $500 million meant for construction to just fund simple maintenance projects. There would have been virtually no new money available for new construction projects. Now, this problem has been solved for the foreseeable future.
You elected me to come to Richmond and focus on growing our economy, creating jobs, and fixing the problems you face in your daily lives. This session we have dramatically reformed our K-12 system with more accountability, choice, and innovation. We reformed government, eliminated budget gimmicks and doubled the rainy day fund. The last few years we have made our unemployment rate the lowest in the Southeast, created $1.4 billion in surpluses, reformed our pension system to save $9 billion, dropped yearly average tuition increases to the lowest in a decade, toughened our criminal laws and cut the size and scope of state government.
However, even with all that progress on a wide array of issues, without a modern and well-funded transportation system our future economic growth would remain in jeopardy. Private sector job-creators would have a harder time moving goods to market, expanding their enterprises, and hiring new workers. And your commute would just grow longer, the money you waste sitting in traffic would increase, and your quality of life would diminish. We could not afford to let that happen.
Throughout this debate, when many said we couldnt get a transportation bill passed, so many of you stood up and advocated for passage. You called your legislators, you talked to your neighbors, and you made a difference. Today weve shown that there is still a Virginia Way. Richmond is not Washington. In Richmond, we cut out rhetoric and work together to fix problems and get results.
I cant thank you enough for your support of this bill and our Administration. Todays vote will make our economy stronger, and Virginia an even better place to call home. Thank you, so much, for everything that you do for this great Commonwealth.
Bob McDonnell(signed) Governor of Virginia
PS: Remember if you want to see what this bill means in your community please visit the project list page HERE. In every region of Virginia, this bill will mean new roads, new bridges, shorter commutes and more jobs.
Any good work in the Republican Party is being done on the State and Local level, where 700 new Republicans won seats nationwide and where there’s REAL conservativism instead of the “Please Master Obama let me kiss your a$$ because I love you” Washington establishment GOPers.
What does Obama have to do with VA transportation funding?
Transportation funding ping!
By far, the biggest problem the Commonwealth faces is the influx of Maryland liberals into NoVa.
For the amount of riders, every state would probably do well to end rail service, high speed rail plans, etc. The few subways/metros in larger urban areas are used and even though lose money, they are not under-ridden. All other places could be served by buses on existing surface roads, with regional bus lines to get further out, if necessary.
email from Delegate LeMunyon (67th district)
Why I Voted for the Transportation Tax Bill
Yesterday, I voted for the House-Senate compromise
legislation, H.B. 2313, which raises certain taxes to fund transportation in Northern Virginia and throughout the state. The bill passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 60-40. It passed the Virginia Senate today on a vote of 25-15. Governor McDonnell has indicated he will sign the bill. House Speaker Bill Howell introduced the bill at the request of the Governor at the beginning of the 2013 General Assembly session.
I have always believedand continue to believethat raising taxes should be the last resort in public policy. I take no joy in telling you that with respect to transportation funding, we are at the last resort. But I believe enacting this imperfect legislation is better than any alternative to address Northern Virginias transportation problems.
While the bill is a little complex, the bottom line is that the average Northern Virginia family will pay about $15 to $20 more per month in taxesmostly through a 1% sales tax increase—dedicated to transportation. The bill does not tax income, savings, or investment. The money is not being used to expand the size of government or create new entitlements. Most importantly, the bill is designed to raise and keep a substantial amount of transportation money in Northern Virginia, the majority of which must be spent only on projects that provide the biggest bang for the buck in reducing congestion. I assisted in drafting this provision in the bill, and I would have voted against the bill without it.
Most taxpayers, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents tell me this amount of money is worth it to reduce their commutes and make it home in time for family dinner, coach the sports team, or get to the school or church meeting. In fact, many people would actually save this amount or more by spending less on gasoline now wasted by idling in congestion.
During the last three years, Governor McDonnell and the General Assembly have worked diligently to reform a number of state government programs, including VDOT, hold the line on spending, and direct as much excess money to transportation as possible, while keeping the budget balanced. Virginia has also secured debt to fund transportation, up to the General Assemblys self-imposed borrowing limit.
Much of the transportation construction now underway in Northern Virginia, especially in Western Fairfax and Eastern Loudoun Counties, is a result of this effort. We are accomplishing a lot, but much more progress is needed. Within the next four years, there will be little or no new construction money available from state resources for roads or mass transit improvements in Virginia because of requirements to pay for maintenance ahead of construction.
As we all know, current levels of maintenance funding are also inadequate, and many roads and neighborhood streets in our area have not been repaved for as long as 20 or 30 years. Our unfunded transportation maintenance and construction needs are estimated to be on the order of $1 billion to $1.5 billion annually statewide.
Working with the Governor, the General Assembly has scoured the budget for additional savings in programs that could be directed to transportation and we will continue to do so. But we have found nowhere near the needed amount of money to properly fund transportation.
Here is a summary of the transportation tax bill:
Statewide Transportation Needsraises about $800 million/year for transportation
Increases the portion of the existing 5.0% sales tax allocated to transportation;
Increases the sales tax from 5.0 to 5.3% with additional funds from the 0.3% increase dedicated to transportation;
Replaces the existing 17.5 cent per gallon retail gas tax with a 3.5% wholesale gas tax. At current gasoline prices, this results in a small tax cut, but would increase if gasoline prices continue to rise;
Increases the tax on the sale of autos by 1.3% over time;
Adds an additional $50 registration fee for alternative fuel vehicles in recognition that drivers of such vehicles pay less in gas tax;
Applies most future sales taxes collected from Internet purchases to transportation— if Congress passes a law related to Internet sales taxes.
The Secretary of Transportation is committed to using $87 million of these new funds to redesign the I-66/Route 28 intersection, and widen Route 606 west of Dulles Airport. These are the two largest unfunded projects in our area at this time.
Northern Virginias Needsraises about $350 million/year in addition to Northern Virginias share of funding from the statewide transportation accounts
Increases the sales tax an additional 0.7% (on top of the new 5.3% statewide sales tax) to 6.0% in Northern Virginia, set aside for Northern Virginias transportation needs;
Increases the grantors tax paid when a house is sold;
Adds an additional 2% hotel tax to be paid primarily by visitors to our area.
In summary, this solution is not perfect. I know not everyone is happy about provisions in this legislation.
I proposed that the bill include reductions in the income tax and grocery food tax to offset some of the tax increases, but these were not agreed to. In the end, I carefully weighed the pros and cons, and voted according to what I believe is best for the people I represent.
I will carefully monitor implementation of this law to ensure that funds are spent in ways that offer you measurable improvements in your quality of life.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Thank you for the privilege of representing you in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Yours for Good Government,
Member, Virginia House of Delegates
He already knows this I’m sure, but he can get Free Republic’s take on it.
I am not terribly upset over of this. One can argue that Tidewater should have had its sales tax raised to 6% for its transportation needs as well, simply under the same philosophy that NoVa got its raised.
Tidewater does contribute to overall economy of the Commonwealth, but this is also because of federal spending; spending that would not have been possible if it were not for tax collected from the rest of the Commonwealth. Friedman’s MV = PQ is being put to good use.
The question is how much more NoVa can grow and when it is expected to require more money for Transportation?
Btw, I am not a RINO or a GOPe-er, I think that this disarms the Dems in VA for the next couple of election cycles and may get McDonnell in the US Senate in 2014.
Today Republicans joined Democrats to raise taxes. The difference between Democrats and Republicans is only in degree. ALL problems can be solved by raising taxes, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. Isn't that great! When you need money raise taxes!
Is that not what President Obama says? Raise taxes to solve all problems? What happened to fiscal responsibility? Nobody needs it.
This is a disaster.
It is the 2nd largest tax increase in state history.
Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are doing the happy dance.
Raising taxes in a recession is the stupid beyond belief.
I honestly don’t know how I’m going to make ends meet now.
This on top of medicaid expansion and implementation of obamacare exchanges.
I don’t ever want to hear another word from NOVA about the damn roads ever again. Not ever again. Not one word.
We have a law in Va against implementing Obamacare.
We’re implementing the federal exchange.
Implementing the federal exchange is NOT not implementing obamacare. Expanding medicaid is part of that deal.
Reads like Voodoo Economics.
As someone who lives in NoVA, I don't want to pay higher taxes than many in the rest of the state. And you can bet that after a few years, the gas tax will be reinstituted.
And the price for passing the bill is the the expansion of Medicaid in VA. The Feds pick up the full cost for the first three years and that decreases to 90%. We will need more taxes to make up the 10%. McDonnell screwed us. He is a RINO.
I totally agree with you....
This is an over-all tax increase...when gas is at an all time high. Goods will be more expensive, shipping, energy, etc. VA is going the way of CA with No VA leading the charge.
I am SO disappointed with the Pubs joining in ...we have no conservative Pubs anymore...RNC gets no money from me. Going Galt....
Sorry..haven’t had coffee yet..can’t before going to church.
This increase in SALES tax will solve nothing and yes, will make all goods more expensive.
-—— Without good roads———
Virginia is without good roads.
From October 2011 to October 2012 we traveled extensively and visited 24 states. We went from Canada to the gulf and Durham to San Francisco. With out question the states with the worst roads were Indiana and Virginia.
I travel I 81 with great frequency. It is literally falling apart. It seems that the question of road maintenance has been completely ignored.
PA roads pretty much suck too.
The tax hikes McDonnell agreed to in order to get what he sees as his transportation legacy through will come back to bite the GOP in the butt next November. I have had it up to HERE with the GOP.