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BREAKING: Virginia House Passes Transportation Compromise, 60-40

by: lowkell

Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 13:35:52 PM EST

(NOTE TO SENATE DEMOCRATS: Before you guys leave town, you need to make 100% sure that you get Bob McDonnell's agreement, in WRITING (and also publicly), to expand Medicaid. End of story. - promoted by lowkell)

Just a few minutes ago, the Virginia House of Delegates passed, by a 60-40 vote margin, the transportation compromise reached earlier this week (and that we've discussed intensively here at Blue Virginia). Personally, I would have voted against this bill unless two parts were fixed and/or strengthened: 1) the $100 fee on hybrid vehicles is utterly absurd, totally bass-ackwards as the expression goes; and 2) I would want much stronger assurances that any new transportation revenues would be spent on environmentally friendly, smart growth, sustainable transportation solutions and not on more sprawl-inducing highway boondoggles from hell. In addition, House Democrats needed to use this bill for leverage on Medicaid expansion. I'm disappointed they didn't do that, really don't understand why they didn't play hardball, and am 100% certain Republicans would have done just that if the shoe had been on the other foot. Sigh... {UPDATE: Is a a "deal in the works" on Medicaid after all? Let's hope!}

Anyway, now on to the State Senate, where I'm hoping (but not holding my breath) that the issues noted above will be addressed.

P.S. It turns out that Republicans could only muster 34 of the 51 votes they needed to pass this bill. In other words, Democrats gave then 25 of their 32 votes to pass this bill, without getting anything in return on Medicaid, the $100 hybrid fee, or whatever. I'm baffled; what am missing here?!?

UPDATE: Here are the "yeas" and "nays".

lowkell :: BREAKING: Virginia House Passes Transportation Compromise, 60-40
Yea: Albo; Hodges; Marshall, D.W.; Scott, J.M.; BaCote; Hope; May; Sherwood; Brink; Iaquinto; McClellan; Sickles; Bulova; Ingram; McQuinn; Spruill; Cosgrove; James; Merricks; Stolle; Cox, M.K.; Jones; Minchew; Torian; Dance; Keam; Morris; Toscano; Dudenhefer; Kilgore; O'Bannon; Tyler; Edmunds; Knight; Orrock; Villanueva; Filler-Corn; Kory; Plum; Ware, O.; Greason; Krupicka; Poindexter; Watson; Head; LeMunyon; Purkey; Watts; Helsel; Lewis; Putney; Yancey; Herring; Lopez; Rust; Yost; Hester; Loupassi; Scott, E.T.; Mr. Speaker

Nay: Anderson; Fariss; Lingamfelter; Ransone; Bell, Richard P.; Farrell; Marshall, R.G.; Robinson; Bell, Robert B.; Garrett; Massie; Rush; Byron; Gilbert; Miller; Surovell; Carr; Habeeb; Morefield; Tata; Cline; Howell, A.T.; Morrissey; Ward; Cole; Hugo; O'Quinn; Ware, R.L.; Comstock; Joannou; Peace; Webert; Cox, J.A.; Johnson; Pogge; Wilt; Crockett-Stark; Landes; Ramadan; Wright

UPDATE 3:12 pm: I'm hearing definitively that a deal on Medicaid expansion most certainly WAS an integral part of why many House Dems voted for the transportation deal. Now, the key is to make sure that deal is locked in, that McDonnell doesn't renege or backtrack, and that the Senate make that absolutely clear before they agree to vote for this legislation!

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Meanwhile, in reality-land... (4.00 / 1)
Per Wonkblog, "Study: Gas taxes are six times as effective as stricter fuel-economy standards":

What's the best way to curtail gasoline consumption? Economists tend to agree on the answer here: Higher gas taxes at the pump are more effective than stricter fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks.

Much more effective, in fact. A new paper from researchers at MIT's Global Change program finds that higher gas taxes are "at least six to fourteen times" more cost-effective than stricter fuel-economy standards at reducing gasoline consumption.

Oh, but never mind, this is Virginia, where researchers get prosecuted by the Attorney General for uncovering truths.  And where our legislation has nothing whatsoever to do with reality.

For a Sustainable Virginia. Now on Twitter.

Democrats cave in... (4.00 / 2)
...more quickly than a melting glacier.  

Which is why we'll be seeing a lot more of those.

For a Sustainable Virginia. Now on Twitter.

Wondering (0.00 / 0)
If Democrats in the House had held out for a deal on Medicaid, would enough Republicans been willing to go against the governor? That would take intestinal fortitude. We know that is a quality totally lacking in Democrats in the General Assembly. How about GOPers...I just don't know.

It seems that all those "religious" politicians who talk about their "faith" find it very simple to throw the poor and working class Virginians under the bus. I guess they believe God only loves those with money and power. It's disgusting.

[ Parent ]
Video: Delegate Hope speaks on Medicaid Expansion (0.00 / 0)

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Total Incompetence (4.00 / 1)
House Democrats are giving the Governor a huge win and ensuring that Cuccinelli is well positioned to run an anti-tax/anti-establishment campaign.

And also showing that environmentalists in Virginia have practically no influence at all in Democratic politics. Entirely worthless.

This is permanently undermining Virginia's transportation system, and for what? The promise of a Medicaid expansion that will always be a political football.

If Pete Snyder hates it, should we all love it? (0.00 / 0)
I mean, this guy's running as a far-right-wing, anti-government, anti-tax ideologue. So should his statement (see below) blasting the House passage of a transportation package be a reason for normal, sane people to love it? I'm only partly kidding. LOL

I'm very disappointed that politicians in Richmond, including many Republicans, have chosen to raise taxes on Virginia families and job creators rather than getting their spending priorities in line. The issue at stake here isn't that Virginians pay too little in taxes, it's that their government in Richmond takes and spends too much of their money, and fails to budget itself the same way responsible families and businesses in the Commonwealth do every day. I commend our Pete '13 campaign co-chairman Delegate Israel O'Quinn for his opposition to this bill. It's clear that we need more fresh, principled, conservative leadership in Richmond to deliver real reform, and that's why I'm running for Lt. Governor.

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Also, more broadly, I am VERY much enjoying VA's right wingnuts (0.00 / 0)
(on the blogs and elsewhere) melting down over this. That alone almost makes me happy this bill passed, despite its many shortcomings...

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[ Parent ]
Fired Up, Ready to Go? (4.00 / 1)
Well we just gave the crazies a reason to turn up and vote.

[ Parent ]
Seems to me they would have done that anyway (0.00 / 0)
"Crazies" don't need a reason. :)

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[ Parent ]
Wondering ... (4.00 / 1)
What it's going to look like when the GOP slate is all anti-transportation deal and the Democratic slate is all pro-transportation deal. We now own this disaster.

[ Parent ]
Which Way? (4.00 / 2)
If Pete Snyder hates it, is that all I need to be for it?

There's plenty of Republicans I dislike who voted for it.

There is nothing within the transportation package that is redeeming. It's bad policy. The only argument is that entirely wrecking our state's transportation system is worth the Medicaid expansion. And I don't see that yet.

[ Parent ]
Whether Repubs are happy or unhappy is irrelevant to me (4.00 / 2)
We judge things by totally different criteria than they, but it's statistically inevitable that sometimes we will end up on the same side -- sometimes in unintentional alignment against the gooey, meaningless center.  

That's not a sign that a particular position is right or wrong, since we can support or oppose the same legislation for completely different reasons -- as is the case here.

For a Sustainable Virginia. Now on Twitter.

[ Parent ]
The only point I was making is that I'm enjoying (0.00 / 0)
watching Republicans divided, throwing hissy fits, etc. Also, I'd add that they are TOTALLY wrong on their REASONS for opposing the transportation bill - hatred of taxes, of government, of providing for the common good, of doing anything constructive, etc. And, of course, it's GREAT fun to see Bill "ALEC" Howell calling people like Pete "Frank Luntz" Snyder names, stuff like that kinda makes my day. :)

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[ Parent ]
Del. Alfonso Lopez's take on the transportation bill (0.00 / 0)
The House has just passed the Transportation package by a vote of 60 to 40. While this is not a perfect legislative package - it does represent the first significant/comprehensive investment in Virginia's transportation infrastructure since 1986 - the Baliles Administration.

This is a compromise that has its detractors on both the right and the left. That being said - if we did not act within a short period of time Virginia would not have even been able to provide Federal matching funds - let alone tackle necessary construction projects that are a part of the Six Year Plan.

This package addresses each of the six issue areas that my colleagues and I were concerned about early on...

1) It raises over $1 billion in annual revenue. Although I would have rather not touched the gas tax, the bill actually raises (with the regional packages) approximately $1.4 billion annually.

2) It provides a defined revenue stream going forward.

3) It limits cuts to the General Fund - that pays for education and public safety (among other things). The Governor was originally asking for significantly more than the $200 million we are at now.

4) It makes significant investments in TRANSIT (a critical issue for the residents of the 49th District), rail (including $300 million for the Silver Line), and construction - and it addresses the maintenance shortfall.

5) The money becomes available right away.

6) There is a regional component for the areas of greatest need in the Commonwealth - Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Also - the money raised in Northern Virginia (approximately $350 million annually) will stay in Northern Virginia.

This legislative package is also considerably better than the one originally given to us by Governor McDonnell.

A few other issues:

1) As the owner of two hybrid cars and as a resident of a community with countless hybrid vehicles, I joined my colleagues in asking that the definition of alternative fuel cars be changed so that hybrids are not subject to a special tax. We are hearing that this issue may be fixed before the veto session.

2) The mythical $252 million for the package from the Congressional Internet Sales Tax plan that has yet to pass - and is unlikely to do so - has been addressed. If it is not passed by January 1st, 2015, a separate State-based increase will fill the gap.

3) I would have much rather had some internal environmental/smart growth controls put in place with this language. Rest assured - that I will be working with the Southern Environmental Law Center to tackle these issues over the coming years.

This is not an issue that we can wait on... transportation and transit infrastructure improvements are necessary so that Northern Virginia can address our severe traffic/congestion issues and remain an economic engine for the Commonwealth.

This bill is not a solution - but it is an important step forward for Virginia. I remain committed to improving the overall package this year and over the years to come.

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Del. Rob Krupicka's thoughts on the bill (0.00 / 0)
This is not a perfect bill by any measure, but it will have a significant impact on NoVA traffic and transit. And the fact that NoVa gets to control its own destiny with its own funds (w/o VDOT control) is crucial.

NoVA, as the number one place for traffic in the country, needed a plan that gave it control of its own resources. This does that. It has many flaws and it does not solve every issue. But for those of us who live with congestion, crowded buses, inadequate metro service, this is an important step forward.

The transp bill that just passed in the House still needs work. As a hybrid driver I and many others have asked that the definition of alternative fuel cars be changed in the bill so that hybrids are not subject to a special tax. I am cautiously optimistic we can fix that as I have received positive feedback from a number of sources about doing that. If we can't, it will be the first bill I and many others file.

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Del. Hope says... (0.00 / 0)
"Va transportation bill passes the House (60-40) I voted YES. It's not perfect but it will help relieve congestion in NoVA."

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[ Parent ]
David Toscano says (0.00 / 0)
"Transportation bill passes. A true compromise - something for everyone to dislike - but it has significant resources for rail and transit, that will preserving the Cville train. I supported it."

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This is a joke (4.00 / 1)
We know that this transportation package is loaded with pork for communities that don't need it. The benefit to areas like Northern Virginia is smoke and mirrors. This plan is now a Democratic plan, the protests of Delegates that it's not perfect and represents a good compromise to the contrary. It would not have passed without Democratic support, including our Gubernatorial candidate pushing for its passage. We apparently decided to give this to McDonnell as a going away present. We'll miss you Bob.

[ Parent ]
NOVA deserves this joke (0.00 / 0)
Virginia roads are mostly adequate.   I drive every corner of this state and adjoining states on a very regular basis.  Hampton has a few bad spots, almost entirely caused by Navy restrictions, but there is no part of the state that even comes close to the mess that is NOVA.

The only - O N L Y part of Virginia desperately in need of road improvement is NOVA.  Not just improvement, but new roads.  Of course, this very same NOVA voted down taxes to pay for NOVA roads.  

Why in the world should middle class and poor folks in the rest of the state be socked with regressive taxes in order to pay for roads in the wealthiest corner of the Commonwealth?   Because NOVA voters rejected a local tax to pay for their own roads?

If NOVA wants roads, NOVA needs to put up a bond referendum or increase the NOVA gas tax and pay for them.  The road system in the vast majority of the state is actually rather good.

[ Parent ]
Well (0.00 / 0)
seeing as our state income tax dollars pay for the bulk of state spending, then the rest of the state should be fine with chipping in for some roads.  I would be very agreeable to paying for roads locally if we got back what we pay in taxes to Richmond.  The rest of the state can pay for their own schools, Medicade and road maintenance, and we'll pay for ours.


[ Parent ]
Well Said (0.00 / 0)
Being from one of the areas that benefit from the fact that NoVA provides the rest of the state with tax money to fund many state services, I know that we all are in this together and certainly don't begrudge dollars from my area that flow to NoVA.

This state also constantly gripes about the evils of the federal government, yet at least 1/3rd of our economy depends directly on federal spending for defense and on the tax revenues derived from federal workers living in NoVA. For every $1 the state sends to Washington, it gets back $1.20. Sounds to me like Virginia is a federal "welfare queen." And, that situation is true for most "red" states.  

[ Parent ]
Government spending is only good (0.00 / 0)
when it's on stuff Republicans use.  

[ Parent ]
Actually, they want government services - roads, bridges.... (0.00 / 0)
...utilities, a financial system, a strong military, police, firefighters, food inspectors, water and sewer services, Social Security and Medicare benefits, you name it. But they do NOT want to pay for those services. It's a bizarre, totally irresponsible philosophy, but sadly a LOT of Americans subscribe to it...

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[ Parent ]
User Fees (0.00 / 0)
Transportation is one public service that can be funded with taxes or user fees that closely connect with the actual use of the service. There may be some need for the maintenance of roads or construction of new roads that primarily benefits localities and I am generally not sympathetic to the argument that the rest of the state needs to chip in for that ...

But ...

Northern Virginia is not just one of the largest metropolitan areas in the state, at the time it appears to be the only dynamic metropolitan area. We need to make it easier for Northern Virginia to grow and for everyone to take advantage of the labor market around DC. This means investing in mass transit, finishing the Silver Lining, and reforming the local zoning laws that restrict sensible housing. I'd be fine paying for these projects not just with money from the rest of the state, but with money from the general fund.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (0.00 / 0)
Way, way to often, even in Democratic circles, NoVA is just the hated piggy bank for the rest of the state.  "Send us money and keep your mouths shut" seems to be the prevailing sentiment, from the teabagger crowd to the Dems in "Deeds Country".

[ Parent ]
"Chipping in" is fine. "Full freight" is not. (0.00 / 0)
Yes, the state is absolutely and equally responsible for taking care of roads throughout the Commonwealth, including NOVA.

The need in NOVA isn't for maintenance, the need in NOVA is for entirely new routes, new roads, and new interchanges.  Aside from highways, many of NOVA's overwhelmed, major surface roads probably need a "New Jersey" transformation.  That being, the removal of most traffic lights with installation of frontage roads on either side of the main throughway.

While it's easy for many Democrats to agree that a dramatic expansion of public transportation is the best answer, try getting a Republican House and Governor to agree.  A Republican House that is gerrymandered to exist for a decade or two into the future.  

Whatever the NOVA solution, it will be terribly expensive.  The overwhelming need for infrastructure in one small corner of the state cannot realistically be borne by the rest of Virginia.  Based on the composition of the legislature, it will not be borne by the state's general fund.

Manhattan's incredible infrastructure is largely funded local fees and local taxes, not by rural farmers in the north of the state.  NOVA should expect no different.  If NOVA wants the improvement it desperately needs, truths need to be faced.  Even when Terry McAuliffe is our next Governor, the state legislature will not fund NOVA's transportation needs from the general fund.

NOVA needs to face this hard truth.  Local NOVA taxes are the ONLY path to the massive transportation upgrades NOVA so dearly needs.

[ Parent ]
So (0.00 / 0)
NoVA should pay for its roads.  NoVA should also pay for your schools, your Medicaid patients, the bulk of your road maintenance and universities for your kids to attend?

I would be happy if general funds were shifted from education to transportation.  Let "the real Virginia" pay a little more for their schools, just like NoVA has to.

[ Parent ]
In short, the "blue" counties, regions, and states (0.00 / 0)
should pay for most of the services, welfare payments, etc. that the "red" counties, regions and states get. Then, the "red" states turn around and bash the "blue" areas, as well as bash the government that gives them a LOT more money than they pay into the system. Make sense? Sound great? No, didn't think so!

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[ Parent ]
And further (0.00 / 0)
now "the real Virginia" will be screaming that they get less money from us.  

Is that ironic or hypocritical?

[ Parent ]
Both. (0.00 / 0)

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[ Parent ]
Local Benefits, Local Costs (0.00 / 0)
If the need in Northern Virginia is for entirely new routes, new roads, and new interchanges that are used for the benefit of current Northern Virginia citizens, and not the construction of new nodes of housing that would bring in more people into the only economically vibrant area of the state, those new routes, new roads, and new interchanges should be paid for by Northern Virginia's current citizens. I'm fine with a local tax (sales tax if it has to be) for these projects.

Public transportation in Northern Virginia that opens up more affordable housing in areas close to the jobs of both today and tomorrow is a public good for all Virginians, and much like investing in higher education should be taken up by the Commonwealth as a whole.

That is a position that Democrats need to start their negotiations from. Instead we seem to have allowed our leaders to draw themselves into a corner where any transportation bill was defined as a success.  

[ Parent ]
I suspect most NOVA residents don't realize... (0.00 / 0)
I couldn't agree more.  

I suspect most NOVA residents don't realize how localized their issue is.  How ridiculously bad their road situation is compared to the rest of the state.  How good the road system actually is in the rest of the state, even the heavily populated regions, even at rush hour.

Like I posted above, the money for expanding NYC's mass transit doesn't come entirely from the general fund in Albany, it comes largely from fees and taxes paid by the actual users of those services.  

Yes, NOVA deserves equal treatment.  Were NOVA's transportation issues to be genuinely addressed, an overwhelming, unfair majority of the transportation budget would go to NOVA.  

Why is it so terrible to expect NOVA resident to pay an few percent extra in gas tax or car registration to fund the new transportation infrastructure they, and only they, so desperately need?  

NOVA voters have rejected similar proposals in the past, and probably will in the future.  "Richmond" can't be blamed for that.

[ Parent ]
So again (0.00 / 0)
you fail to address the main issue, which is that state income taxes from NoVA pay for most of the state budget FOR THE REST OF THE STATE.  Now you're telling us that we need to continue paying FOR THE REST OF THE STATE and if we want stuff for ourselves, to pay even more.  

Pretend it's a barbacue.  NoVA brings the burgers and dogs, "the real Virginia" brings a stale bag of potato chips.  Everyone sits down, and "the real Virginia" starts digging into the burgers and dogs.  When NoVA asks to have some of the meat, "the real Virginia" says "go get your own, these burgers and dogs are ours.  We're poor, you're rich.  You can afford to go buy more."

So again, why is it so terrible to expect "the real Virginia" residents to bring some of their own burgers and dogs - tax dollars - and stop eating up all of ours?  

In other words, when someone downstate says that NoVA should raise local taxes to pay for roads, my reply is that if we didn't have to pay for all of the leaches downstate and got our tax dollars back from Richmond, we would have ample money for every government function.

[ Parent ]
I don't believe you're correct (0.00 / 0)
To truly fix NOVA's dire transportation problems would require far more resources than NOVA taxpayers are contributing to the state.  It's doubtful that the Commonwealth's ENTIRE non-maintenance road budget would be sufficient to address NOVA's pressing needs.

As I posted above, taxpayers in New York City do not expect rural farmers in Lake Placid to pay the full freight of NYC's transit needs.  Like it or not, NOVA is VA's "New York City".  Just like Manhattanites, NOVA residents will have to accept that constructing a tremendously expensive transportation infrastructure for their locality will require at least SOME local funding.  

Realistically, there is almost no chance of these improvements coming from the general fund.  Those in control of the VA House have almost no constituency in Northern Virginia.  Gerrymandering has fixed them in place for another generation.  

Even though Terry Mc is a near lock to be our next Governor, the likelihood the VA legislature allowing Northern Virginia transportation improvements to paid for by the general fund nears zero.

That is the reality.  If you want massive transportation improvements in NOVA, a lot of the funding will have to come from local taxes.  I get that you believe this to be unfair, but realistically, it will not happen any other way. Not this decade and probably not the next.

[ Parent ]
Fine (0.00 / 0)
I've explained my point several times now, and you don't seem to get it.  Yes, NoVA could probably gobble up the entire state transportation budget if we wanted to.  That's not my point.  My point is the billions of dollars we pay in state income tax every year that goes to the general fund, and is then disbursed to other areas of the state to pay for local school budgets, Medicaid and everything else.  

Do you believe this to be fair?  Perhaps you do.  But, you seem to think that it's UNFAIR that the entire state pay a little bit more in taxes to give some money back to NoVA for some road spending.  That's what I don't understand. You're saying "tax yourselves because you're rich and you're the only ones with transportation problems.  It doesn't affect the rest of the state, so why should the rest of the state pay?".  

My response to that is simple.  A poor Republican rural county's school system isn't my problem.  My kids don't go there.  Paying for Medicaid for some poor rednecks in Southwest isn't my problem, since I don't live there.  But, my income tax dollars go to pay for those things.  NoVA gets back well under fifty cents of every dollar we pay in taxes.  I think it's closer to thirty cents, but again, the point is that we subsidize the poor areas of the state.  We subsidize the very teabagging Republicans that attack us politically.  Without us, Virginia would be Alabama or Mississippi.  With us, Virginia is a good state.  

So, hopefully for the last time, do you understand my point now?  NoVA spends BILLIONS on YOUR public schools.  We would like you to spend MILLIONS on OUR roads.  I think that's a great deal for "the real Virginia".  In fact, it's still a crappy deal for NoVA, but better than the even more crappy deal we've operated under for decades.

[ Parent ]
Commonwealth (0.00 / 0)
We are a commonwealth, we are all in this together as Virginians.

A poor Republican rural county's school system is your problem. It's the problem of all Virginians. It's not just a question of equality regarding the future of children in that school system. It's a question of investing in the future of the Commonwealth. Without a strong public education system Northern Virginia would not be possible.  

[ Parent ]
Ok (0.00 / 0)
So, the schools in rural Virginia are my problem.  If that's so, then why aren't my roads also a problem for rural Virginia?  I can understand and accept that it's all one connected state.  I can understand, but not really accept, that the state is a collection of fiefdoms and each fiefdom - NoVA, Tidewater, Southside, etc - should tax and fund their own needs.

What I don't understand and absolutely will not accept is that NoVA should pay for other areas of the state to have schools and Medicaid, but that the rest of the state has no obligation to help pay for some of our transportation dollars.  It's either a collective effort or an individual effort.  You can't say that it's a collective effort when money flows to "the real Virginia" from NoVA, then turn around and say that NoVA should go it alone when it comes to transportation.

[ Parent ]
Depends on Transportation (0.00 / 0)
If you and your neighbors want a new road to make it more convenient for you to travel to and from the local grocery store, or shave a few minutes off of your commute, with no greater economic impact on the Commonwealth except for encouraging more sprawl even further away from DC, there's no reason for the state to step in and fund the project.

If you're trying to transform one of the largest business centers in Northern Virginia to be more friendly to mass transit and affordable housing, that's for the good of the entire Commonwealth.

It is a collective effort for things with a collective impact. It is a regional effort for things with a regional impact. Not all transportation projects are created equally. And this transportation bill does nothing to ensure that we better prioritize projects that need state aid.

Delegate Toscano, for example, has praised the support this provides for existing Amtrak lines in Charlottesville. But right now the times of existing lines are an inconvenience for all except tourists and students. Does it really make sense for the entire Commonwealth to subsidize this? I don't think it's necessarily a clear cut yes.

[ Parent ]
Lemme see if I got this right... (4.00 / 1)
So the role of Democrats is to pass Republicans' lousy ideas which aren't quite lousy enough to get enough right wingers to support them.  

And I don't buy the fig leaf that hybrids are going to be excluded from the bill.  How could they make the $ add up if they created such a big loophole?  What would be left to tax?

For a Sustainable Virginia. Now on Twitter.

BTW, is there a consultant somewhere in the state... (4.00 / 1)
...who gets a cut every time a Democrat uses the term "not perfect" to describe the bill?  A phrase this frequently and consistently repeated must have been poll-tested...

For a Sustainable Virginia. Now on Twitter.

Yes (4.00 / 1)
The same ones who are saying "well if it's hated by both sides, it must be a god bill."

It's not so much poll-tested as the only way that establishment Democrats have to defend something that is not only unpopular with key components of our party, but risks becoming overwhelmingly unpopular with the electorate. They have to highlight the "universal pain" aspect of the bill to demonstrate supposed bipartisanship in order to sell it.

If someone were able to sell the bill on its own merits as "not perfect" but still a good deal, they wouldn't have to bring up the fact that so many Democratic activists and our key supporters were upset about the bill. To have to ball back to that logic demonstrates precisely what is going on. Our state party folded and gave up the fight.  

[ Parent ]
Del. Filler-Corn weighs in (0.00 / 0)
Yesterday, the House passed the Transportation package by a vote of 60 to 40. I voted yes. While I will be sending out a more detailed explanation of what is in this bill over the next few days, let me just share with you a few important features. This bill raises over $1.4 billion in annual revenue, which includes a regional package for Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads ($350 million per year generated in Northern Virginia will stay in Northern Virginia). It provides us with a dedicated transportation revenue stream going forward. It limits prior proposed cuts to education and public safety and makes significant investments in transit including $300 million for Dulles Rail. It does not eliminate revenue from fuel purchases as previously proposed (the gas tax is shifted to a tax on gas at the wholesale level) and out of staters will still have to pay their fair share. The package also addresses the maintenance shortfall we will soon face. While this is not a perfect legislative package, it represents the first significant investment in Virginia's transportation infrastructure since 1986.

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