A Brief Time-Out for Happy Talk

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine made some up-beat remarks in a speech to the General Assembly that the Richmond Times-Dispatch ignored in its coverage of yesterday’s events, perhaps on the grounds that it was insufficiently contentious. But I think his comments are worth repeating — occasionally, we need to remind ourselves that, as much as Virginians disagree about things, we agree about a whole lot more. Said Kaine:

It has been a year of remarkable achievements in Virginia.

In its first ever ranking of the best states for business, Forbes ranked Virginia first.

For the first time ever, Virginia’s “Rainy Day” fund is full.

Our public schools and system of higher education – once again – have been ranked among the nation’s best.

The nonpartisan Tax Foundation ranked Virginia 41st among the 50 states in state and local individual tax burden. Virginia’s business tax burden was cited as the nation’s lowest by the Council on State Taxation. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce designated Virginia as one of the five top states for overall legal fairness.

Working together, we have ensured that Virginia remained one of only a handful of states that still carries the best-possible Triple-A bond rating.

Strong education, an attractive business climate, award-winning management, rock solid fiscal reliability—these traits combined have continued to produce strong job growth.

In fiscal year 2006, our state added 78,000 new jobs, 14,000 more than forecast.

Our unemployment level remains low – 3.3%, a full point-and-a-half below the national jobless rate.

It’s true, Virginia is in pretty darn good shape. Our strong finances and superior economic performance are no accident.

OK, the time-out is over. Let’s get back to fighting…

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5 responses to “A Brief Time-Out for Happy Talk”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Okay .. some I’m waiting for the questions… the one’s that say if Virginia is so well off.. then why is VDOT broke and our roads overwhelmed?


  2. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    OK, Larry, Here goes… VDOT is not broke. VDOT spends some $3 billion a year. It may not have enough money to build all the projects that the Business As Usual lobby would like to build, but that hardly means it’s broke. As you would be the first to argue, what’s “broke” is Virginia’s transportation policy — how the money is spent.

    Second, Virginia’s roads are overwhelmed but so are the roads of every state with a large metropolitan area. No one has devised a slam-dunk transportation solution. But I would argue that Virginia is moving in the right direction. For the first time in memory, we are questioning old transportation verities and thinking outrageous, improbably things.

    I just had an e-mail communication with a legislator who is thinking seriously about how to implement congestion pricing in the Commonwealth. Ideas like that weren’t even up for discussion, much less serious consideration, four years ago.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Or should we abolish the current approach to traffic and road planning (a hodge-podge of state, city, town, and counties) and set up highway districts like seen in many western states?

  4. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    1:04 Could you provide more details about highway districts?

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I stand corrected – VDOT is NOT broke but my comment WAS tongue-in-cheek and I full agree with the assessments of VDOT’s problems.

    re: highway districts.

    JLARC (Virginia’s version of CBO) has made recommendations of a significant nature in the way that VDOT should operate – not the least of which is to allocate state roads to VDOT, regional roads to MPOs and local roads to counties/cities.

    (the report is available on their website).

    Let the Howling begin… but the reality is that ALL the current gas tax dollars WILL be spent .. in fact already dedicated by law to road maintenance in Virginia…

    Without new money, by 2010, there will be virtually no new projects – only the ones currently in the pipeline.

    Having localities take care of their own road needs is not necessarily a bad thing… because elected officials will be held more accountable for land-use/transportation decisions since both would be in their hands.

    If Loudoun want to approve 28,000 new houses, the obvious question residents should ask is where are the new roads coming from….

    MPOs, little known to most folks, have, in my opinion, “got it right” when it comes to Regional road planning – at least better than VDOT has it.

    The Wash Metro Area MPO is the Tranportation Planning Board of the MWCOG. It’s there that virtually ALL NoVa transportation decisions are made including funding.. yet most folks don’t even know they exist.

    So.. if VDOT’s mission may be about to be changed in significant ways.. I could understand.. that the job of picking the right folks to do that.. ought to be not hasty.

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