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VA Senate Democrats Reject Transportation Plans that Raid Education and Public Safety Funding

by: lowkell

Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 19:39:15 PM EST

This just in from the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus. All I have to say is "good riddance," now kill the monstrosity that came out of the House today.

RICHMOND, VA — Today, Senate Democrats rejected transportation plans that took significant money away from education and public safety and did not raise enough revenue to solve Virginia's transportation crisis. Senator Newman's plan to transfer money from the general fund was defeated on a vote of 22-18. Senator Wagner's plan to raise the gas tax was defeated 27-8. The Governor's plan was sent back to committee, taking it out of consideration for the session.

Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) said, "I go home deeply disappointed tonight. Although we saw three different transportation plans on the Floor, all were woefully inadequate to the transportation challenges Virginia faces. I cannot vote for a plan that does not raise sufficient revenue to repair Virginia's roads, bridges and tunnels; start long-delayed, needed new construction; and invest in mass transit. I also cannot vote for a plan that raids hundreds of millions of dollars from education and public safety."

Senator Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said, "I wish we could have reached agreement tonight, but none of the transportation proposals we saw tonight were anything close to the long-term comprehensive solution Virginia needs. The Governor's bill has been fatally flawed since day one."

Regarding Senator Wagner's proposal, Senator Saslaw continued, "The average price of a gallon of gas last night was probably close to $3.15. That would have likely only raised about 25 cents per gallon. That's nothing — not enough. And he gambles the other half of his plan on the Marketplace Equity Act passing Congress? This bill was poorly conceived."

Regarding Senator Wagner's proposal, Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) said, "This is a 53-page proposal that was put on our desks today. This is the biggest issue of the Session, and maybe of the last ten years. We haven’t been at the table. This has a lot of good parts to it, but this process is not the process that you go through if you’re serious about passing statewide law." 

lowkell :: VA Senate Democrats Reject Transportation Plans that Raid Education and Public Safety Funding
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Gov. McDonnell's statement (0.00 / 0)
Statement of Governor Bob McDonnell on Senate Democrats Vote against Transportation Legislation

RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement this evening following the Senate Democrats decision to reject advancing a transportation funding bill of any kind.  The Democrats partisan rejection of all proposals, combined with a failure to even put forward a transportation plan of their own, follows a bipartisan vote in support of the Governor's transportation funding plan in the House this morning.

"On a day when a new report from the Texas Transportation Institute again ranked the Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia/Maryland region as the most congested area in the country, the Senate Democratic caucus, most of whom represent that region, chose to vote on strictly partisan lines against progress on addressing these challenging issues. The Democratic caucus repeatedly said no to improving transportation in Virginia. They did this despite today's study showing congestion costs Northern Virginians $1400 per person per year, and leaves them sitting in traffic for 67 hours every year. Rather than engaging in a debate on how to move forward with tackling our transportation problems, it is apparent that the Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Richard Saslaw, are once again content to risk our continued economic prosperity and our citizens' quality of life.  Their partisan, lock-step opposition to fixing transportation is incredibly disappointing. Sadly, the Senate Democrats appear to be the 'Party of No.'

With their no votes today, these senators chose to vote against $1.8 billion for new construction, over $500 million in additional funding for transit, and over $270 million for passenger rail.  Just last year, the Senate Democrats used the tolls on the Dulles Toll Road, and their demands for additional funding to mitigate the costs of Phase II of the Dulles Metrorail Project, as their stated reason to repeatedly kill a budget.  Now, just one year later, those very same senators today rejected the $300 million in this bill to lower the costs of the Dulles project, thus ensuring higher tolls for drivers in Northern Virginia. There is no defense for such an about face. Clearly, this was all about partisanship, not policy. Virginians deserve far better from their elected officials.

Recent polling has shown that a majority of Virginians from all regions of the Commonwealth strongly support passing a solution to our transportation challenges this session. They want a solution now. The House of Delegates stepped up and on a bipartisan basis passed a transportation funding solution. Thankfully, their action means a transportation bill is still advancing this session, despite today's partisan blockade by Democrats in the State Senate.  It is now past time that the Senate Democrats support their constituents and get serious about tackling the challenges facing Virginia's transportation system."

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So ... (0.00 / 0)
Let us have a group of Democratic Party Senators have a bill proposal that would:

1.  Put an inflation adjustment on the existing gas tax.

2.  Have the inflation adjustment be applied retroactive to the tax introduction, with this being put into effect 1/3rd this year, 1/3rd next year, 1/3rd year after.

3.  Put a fee based on vehicle weight for sale/purchase/transfer title of car. Perhaps $0 for first 1500 lbs and then $0.10 for every lb above that (since weight is a critical item for damage to roads).  And, then have a separate additional fee related to larger commercial vehicles.

4.  Have a fee for existing fuel-efficient vehicle license plates (where that allows use of HOV lanes).  Have the fee at $100 for first year, $150 for second, $200 for third year$250 / year for each year that follows. THIS IS FOR THE ACCESS TO HOV LANES and is a service fee.

5.  Eliminate the 'road to nowhere' and the 'coalfields (MTR) highway' from planning.

6.  Appoint a bipartisan commission to look to whether developer fees / otherwise can help ameliorate transit issues.

7.  Foster VA programs to incentivize telework and alternative work schedules to lessens/flatten peak demand periods.

8. Etc ...

And, by the way, weren't there Democratic proposals ...  

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