Cuccinelli Withhholds Judgment on Transportation Package

Guess which member of the Republican Party establishment is not yet jumping on board the legislative compromise crafted to restructure Virginia’s transformation funding mix… Ken Cuccinelli, attorney general and presumed Republican candidate for governor.

While applauding Governor Bob McDonnell and the General Assembly for taking action to address Virginia’s serious transportation issues, Cuccinelli did not endorse the product in a press release issued this morning. He urged the legislature to give the bill a “thorough review” before voting on it.

Quoth the Cooch: “If reports are correct, this new bill contemplates a massive tax increase.  In these tough economic times, I do not believe Virginia’s middle class families can afford massive tax increases, and I cannot support legislation that would ask the taxpayers to shoulder an even heavier burden than they are already carrying, especially when the government proposes to do so little belt tightening in other areas of the budget.”

Cuccinelli opposes tax hikes. No surprise there. Here’s the stunner: Addressing the component of the compromise that would raise more revenue for Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, he said, “If localities are given more authority to address their most urgent transportation needs, that would be an element that I strongly support, and it would be an element that addresses one of the most fundamental disconnects in Virginia transportation today:  the one between those responsible for land use planning and those responsible for transportation planning. ” (My emphasis.)

OMG! Cuccinelli actually acknowledges the link between transportation and land use!! I’ve lost my bearings. I’m staggering with disbelief. Things fall apart. He is absolutely correct that the transportation-land use connection is critical, but this is the first time I’ve heard him utter such a thought, and it is language that has been totally missing from the McDonnell administration, which has hewed to the “pragmatic” model of just getting projects done — whether the projects are economically justified or not.

For those with short memories, the last governor to talk about the connection between transportation and land use was Democrat Tim Kaine. Hmmm. I wonder what Terry McAuliffe thinks of the legislation.

– JAB

Update: Why has Terry McAuliffe’s campaign website not posted a press release since October 10, 2012? And why doesn’t the www.terrymcauliffe.com splash page link to anything on the site? Just asking.

Update: McAuliffe supports the plan, according to the Virginian-Pilot. McAuliffe said the compromise plan “would provide funding to improve our transportation system and keep Virginia competitive.” He doesn’t like the $200 million diverted from the General Fund but, “More inaction is not an option. Inaction on transportation has meant that our families have been stuck in traffic, companies have seen their products delayed and the Commonwealth has seen our competitiveness reduced.” Hat tip: Don Rippert.

9 Responses to Cuccinelli Withhholds Judgment on Transportation Package

  1. If the Cooch is going to weigh in.. then he needs to have a different idea to offer. Otherwise… except for his right wing ideology, we know almost nothing about how he would govern on issues like education and transportation.

    And is McAuliffe has gone rancid in his campaign, we ARE in deep doo doo…

    At some point.. as we are seeing now with the National GOP, people are going to wake up and realize that the GOP agenda is … nutty as a fruitcake…

  2. McAuliffe would be a fool to say anything. A Republican sponsored transportation plan with the necessary tax increase has been put before the General Assembly. If TMac opposes, he’d have to put forth his own plan. Of necessity, that plan would require him to propose higher taxes. That would be music to the Cooch’s ears. If he supports, he risks having his legs cut out from under him if his own party decides to derail the proposal.

    Meanwhile, Cuccinelli is in a jam. If he opposes, he goes against a Republican governor who enjoys a strong approval rating. McDonnell might not bother to campaign for Cuccinelli or he might campaign half-heatedly. That’s a big problem. A lot of moderates respect McDonnell but are wary of Cuccinelli. If the moderate Governor joins the moderate Lt Governor in being unwilling to support Cooch, he is sunk. He would also have to put forth his own plan. So far, that seems to be “Now is not a good time to raise taxes”. Unfortunately for Mr. Cuccinelli he has been in politics through good and bad economic times. Everybody knows it’s not just “bad economic times” – it’s that he (like all Virginia Republicans except Bob McDonnell) doesn’t have any answers. Cuccinelli is reduced to being just another member of the Party of No.

  3. backing up here a bit…

    The rural geography of Va probably sees no strong need for higher taxes especially the less prosperous parts where people already struggle to afford gasoline… so those folks are going to be satisfied with the Cooch’s mil toast demurer.

    My suspects are that the Hampton Roads folks are happy with this because they believe it will mean more bridge/toll infrastructure – and hopefully (in their minds) less tolls.

    I’m not sure the folks in the Fburg area are going to see any great goodies in this for them since I-95 is slated to become 50 miles of tolled HOT Lanes anyhow…

    I don’t know NoVA but my suspects are that the tax thing is not that big a deal and they’re happy just to get more transpo dollars and money for METRO.

    okay.. so enough blather..

    taking all the geography of Va into account.. it will be interesting to see the final vote on the conference agreement. It might not be such a slam dunk.

    Oh yeah.. McDonnell started the ball rolling but he can’t raise taxes, only DJ’s clown show can.

    • “The rural geography of Va probably sees no strong need for higher taxes …”

      Keeping the gas tax in line with inflation does not constitute higher taxes. If they don’t understand that then all of the money we have been pouring into rural Virginia for their schools is not having an effect.

      The rural geography overwhelmingly voted for Romney. What did that get them?

      Hampton Roads has seen the light. The alternative to not keeping transportation revenue in line with inflation is sky high tolls.

      I think McDonnell has this one. And while he can’t vote for it himself, if it passes – he owns it.

  4. http://hamptonroads.com/2013/02/cuccinelli-mcauliffe-differ-road-funding-compromise?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    Cuccinelli: “I cannot support legislation that would ask the taxpayers to shoulder an even heavier burden than they are already carrying, especially when the government proposes to do so little belt tightening in other areas of the budget,” Cuccinelli said, noting that his comments are based on media reports about the deal’s details.”.

    McAuliffe: While imperfect, McAuliffe said the compromise plan “would provide funding to improve our transportation system and keep Virginia competitive.”

    One item he doesn’t like is the nearly $200 million in general fund dollars the plan would divert to road upkeep that might otherwise be spent on education and other core government services.

    Still, he added, “More inaction is not an option. Inaction on transportation has meant that our families have been stuck in traffic, companies have seen their products delayed and the Commonwealth has seen our competitiveness reduced.”.

    Cuccinelli is just another useless professional politician from The Party of No.
    No ideas. No plans. No suggestions of where to “belt tighten”. His dissembling remarks look past that fact that a gas tax frozen in cents per dollar is an annual tax cut. He knows this to be true but would live lie, hyperventilate and return to his Quixote – like tilting at imaginary windmills.

    Cuccinelli is a just another clown from the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond.

  5. I suspect Cucinelli’s reticence (if that’s what it is) is because he can’t figure out where the political advantage is in one position as opposed to another.

  6. Geeze Scout – do you mean as opposed to Cucinelli sharing his philosophy of how transportation and government should work?

    Should we expect much different than we’d hear from the tea pot conspiracy theorists on government?

    I strongly suspect that Cucinelli is yet another Rand Paul type who would never fully disclose to voters how he really felt – until he would be elected and then he’d spout off about all the far right libertarian right wing claptrap that Rand Paul does now.

    The libertarian types though don’t even have a principled position on transportation as they generally oppose tolls with the argument that they’ve “already paid for roads” and that the reason why the roads are overcrowded and in bad condition is because government “wastes” the taxes they already get.

    Now if Cucinelli were an honest man – right now – he’d not only tell you he is opposed to the current plan – but he would share with us his vision of how he would do it instead.

    don’t hold your breath. If the man even has a clue, he’s not about to share it until AFTER the election.

  7. I see both Senators Dick Saslaw and Chap Petersen have blasted the compromise plan.

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