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BREAKING: Speaker Howell Says He Definitely has 51 Votes in House for Transportation Deal

by: lowkell

Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:35:43 AM EST

I've been listening live to the John Fredericks Show (note: see John Fredericks' view of the transportation deal here - in short, he strongly supports it), where Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell (R) just stated unequivocally that he has 51 votes in the 100-seat House for the transportation deal announced yesterday. Howell further stated that he's more than willing to defend himself against right-wing attacks on the deal, which raises taxes significantly, because Richmond is not Washington, DC; here in Virginia, we compromise to get things done according to Howell. Speaking of the right wing, on the John Fredericks Show a few miniutes ago, Howell slammed GOP LG candidate Pete Snyder's proposal to slash Virginia government spending across the board in order to pay for transportation as "draconian," "naive," and "unrealistic." Finally, Howell noted that Sen. Janet Howell (D), who he emphasized is a liberal, is on board with the transportation compromise, clearly implying passage by the State Senate. Stay tuned for more, but it looks increasingly like this thing's a done deal.

P.S. I'm starting to think that this transportation deal, despite its MANY flaws, might be worth it just to see the Republican Party tell the teahadists (e.g., Grover Norquist, Pete Snyder) to go f*** themselves. LOL

UPDATE 8:42 am: Sen. Ralph Northam says "we're in good shape" on the transportation plan, "we've hit crunch time in Virginia," "for the economy of Virginia...both sides of the aisle have come together for's a package that will move Virginia forward...I'm real excited about it...supportive of this package." Northam says he's "a little bit disappointed" in the $100 fee on hybrid vehicles, but understands the argument on the other side. Hmmmm. On the regional aspects of the bill, Northam says the "reality" is that Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads need the extra revenue, "projects that need to be done," this is a "step in the right direction." Northam says there are some in the Democratic caucus who have concerns, but he believes there will be "bipartisan support" in the Senate for this bill.

Whoa, on the John Fredericks Show, they just called Aneesh Chopra a "far left-wing candidate." Seriously?!? Wow. Hahahaha, Sen. Northam just (jokingly?) said he'd be happy to pick up John Fredericks and drive him to the polls to vote in the Democratic Primary on June 11. Having interviewed both Chopra and Northam, also having looked at their records, I'm not seeing any serious policy or ideological differences between them, let alone that one's the "moderate" candidate and the other's "far left." Either I'm totally missing something here (doubtful in this case), or the John Fredericks folks are messing with us, or something else is going on here...

UPDATE 10:54 am: I'm hearing that Howell might not really have those 51 votes, that he could just be b.s.'ing and/or trying to reduce Democrats' leverage vis-a-vis Medicaid expansion. Personally, my advice to House Dems is simple - for once you actually may have some leverage, as Howell wants and needs votes from your caucus. Use that leverage to push for Medicaid expansion, and don't take no for an answer!

UPDATE 11:01 am: Greater Greater Washington weighs in and is not happy with this plan. Also, see Del. Surovell's analysis of the plan.

lowkell :: BREAKING: Speaker Howell Says He Definitely has 51 Votes in House for Transportation Deal
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OK, just so I'm clear on the hybrid car fee. (4.00 / 1)
They are charging hybrid owners $100 a year because hybrid owners don't pay enough in gas tax, but then they are eliminating the gas tax?

Well, not exactly.... (0.00 / 0)
They're eliminating one gas tax (the one at the pump) while imposing a new one (at the wholesale level). As for hybrids, I guess their argument is that they don't pay enough in gas tax, which they're lowering so the $100 helps compensate. I think it's completely assinine, as we should be doing everything we can to ENCOURAGE fuel-efficient vehicles, not DISCOURAGE them, but it's going to pass....

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[ Parent ]
Federal Tax (0.00 / 0)
The other part of their half baked logic is that Federal Tax which will still be collected is returned to the states and hybrid cars use less gas so fewer federal tax dollars return to VA.

[ Parent ]
It's a bad idea (0.00 / 0)
The logic behind it is absurd. Just another reason to vote no on it.

[ Parent ]
Electric Cars? (0.00 / 0)
Gee, what will they do about the possibility of electric cars? Make those people pay a portion of their electric bills to the state?

The fairest way to pay for roads, at least by Virginia citizens, would be to devise a system whereby those people who drive the most pay the highest fee for registering a vehicle. Easy to do, since we have annual inspection of cars and trucks. Putting the mileage into a computer record would be a piece of cake. There also is the advantage of making mass transit more attractive to people.

Question (0.00 / 0)

Elaine, philosophically I don't object at all to this idea but have always had a question about it that no one has ever been able to answer.  Could you help me out?

It's my perception that a not insubstantial amount of gas tax revenue currently comes from out-of-state drivers, both of passenger cars and big trucks.  How could a usage tax system ensure that these travelers continue to contribute?

[ Parent ]
Good Question (0.00 / 0)
As a "corridor" state, VA has a large number of out of state drivers using our road system. A large part of our economy is based on out of state tourism also.

[ Parent ]
Not Either/Or (0.00 / 0)
Perhaps the only way to address that problem is to have both revenue systems in effect. Since "through" dirvers don't continually use the state highway system, there could still be a gas tax at some level. (Of course, it is quite possible for an auto to drive all the way through the state on the gas in their full tank. Note that the McDonnell plan treated diesel fuel differently because heavy trucks are more likely to buy diesel fuel more frequently -  and tear up the roads more.) Then, for Virginia residents the annual registration could charge more to those who drive the most and use the highways the most.

Actually, my personal preference would be to close the egregious tax expenditures and loopholes in the state income tax structure, starting with the $78 million or so thrown to coal companies to "promote jobs." If we could do that, we could take more from the General Fund for transportation without harming other vital services. We also could reinstate the state estate tax, which I call the "Mars family loophole." Just think, when old Mr. Mars go to the Great Beyond, his heirs  won't have to pay a cent of estate tax on the billions they will inherit.

The fact that our economy is majority-services now also comes into play. Every time I get a haircut or go to a gym or get any number of non-vital services, I pay no sales tax. At the same time, people with little income still pay sales tax, albeit a lower amount thanks to Doug Wilder, on the food they buy. The Virginia tax system, like the Federal one, is riddled with preferences that make no sense.

[ Parent ]
33% of our road usage comes from out of state traffic (0.00 / 0)
This is what is so stupid amount the plan...
Raise the per gallon gas tax by just .01 and you spread out
the increase in revenue and actual use to the users.

[ Parent ]
LG Primary (0.00 / 0)
It will be interesting to see if Chopra comes out against this. It would be a clear and visible split between Chopra and Northam, and for me all the reason I'd need to vote for Chopra.

Here's audio of the John Fredericks show (0.00 / 0)
...including around 38 minutes in, where Fredericks says he can cast Aneesh Chopra as "a far left-wing candidate." Huh?!? Where did THAT come from?!? Bizarre.

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Clearly (0.00 / 0)
Anyone who has a background working with former Governor and current Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, and with two-time Commonwealth winner President Barack Obama, cannot be in the mainstream of Virginia politics.

[ Parent ]
GOP Taxes Democrats- (4.00 / 1)
Looks like the GOP finally figured out how to pass transportation-

Tax Democrats who have hybrid cars.

Tax Democrats that live in NoVA or Hampton Roads, making them pay more for roads that everyone else in Virginia gets for free.

Tax poor people who don't have cars to pay for transportation (sales tax increase).

Bonus: Bob McD gets to say he eliminated the gas tax when he's running for President. He'll be able to claim it was a bipartisan deal because at least one Democrat in each chamber will vote for it. He'll never mention that he imposed the gas tax at the wholesale level.

Great job passing transportation!


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